July 8th – Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God – Jonathan Edwards

English: "Sinners in the Hands of An Angr...

I can’t believe this has sat in my ‘Drafts’ box for almost a year. It’s true. So with a few edits and additions it should still make sense as this year I aim to hit the deadline!

July 8th is the anniversary of the most famous – or infamous – sermon preached by Jonathan Edwards at Enfield, Connecticut July 8, 1741 on the text ‘Their foot shall slide in due time’ Deut. 32:35 with the title; ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God’.

On July 7th (2014) I was talking to a Christian work colleague about this sermon though completely unaware of the date. They had never heard of it. The very next day I discovered ‘Issues etc’ had reviewed the sermon on July 7th (2014) in ‘celebration’ of the following historic day. I related this the following day at work. Then on that Sunday evening (2014) it was mentioned again (unaware of the date I think) as part of the introduction to the ministry at our Church. So as the sermon is ‘still’ on my mind I’ll get to it..

It’s been some while since reading the sermon and because I suspect a good number of people will be completely unaware of the sermon by Edwards I mention it here. Before saying much I needed to re-read the sermon. The sermon text is formatted very well for reading or printing HERE.

You will find the sermon text appearing in anthologies in many University departments, and not just in Departments of Religion but in English & History departments and will probably find it in Psychology as well. Check out your University Library catalogue. It will mostly be an object of wonder and incredulity that such a great mind was able to produce something so utterly horrific – so would say the secular mind and sadly I suspect many Christians. The fact that Edwards was one of the greatest minds America has ever produced was a source of amazement to Perry Miller. Miller thought Edwards religion ‘a waste of an intellect’. I think this quote is in Millers’s volume on Edwards. Funny how it didn’t stop Miller spending most of his life studying him and The Puritans though!

I was surprised to find Issues etc both critiquing and criticising the sermon, especially for its lack of Gospel content. It was an eye opener for me (my naivety) regarding Lutheranism – at least that section of it. I completely disagree. Set in the context of Edwards target parishioners, the sermon and the fact that it wasn’t his regular topic should make us cautious in analysing the sermon. Back in Edwards day there was an acceptance that God hates and judges sin. I also disagree as to its Gospel content or application. It blazes out against the backdrop of God’s wrath. The context of the sermon is that in the midst of a ‘Revival’ where many sinners are turning to Christ for salvation the people in Enfield are careless about the things of God, careless for their souls and are not embracing the Saviour by responding to the Gracious invitation of The Gospel. This is stated in the very first sentence of the sermon – ‘…. God’s visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works towards them, remained (as in verse 28) void of counsel, having no understanding in them’.

For more on this sermon see George Marsden’s book ‘Jonathan Edwards: A Life‘ pages 219 – 226. Note page 224:

‘When Isaac Watts received the printed version of the sermon he wrote on his copy: “A most terrible sermon, which should have had a word of Gospel at the end [of] it, though I think ’tis all true”. Edwards had offered this one brief Gospel word, but if one had taken this sermon as characteristic of his preaching, it would have been dreadfully out of balance. Edwards could take it for granted, however, that a New England audience knew well that Gospel remedy. The problem was to get them to seek it.’

Also see Iain Murray’s book ‘Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography’ page 169 ff.

The sermon is mentioned on page 87 in ‘America: A Narrative History’ by George Brown Tindall & David Emory Still (1997, 4th Edition) as ‘his most famous sermon’. ‘America’ was a course textbook for A History of America course that I took while studying for a BA at Warwick University.

The sermon was preached by Edwards several times, at least twice anyway. According to Harry S. Stout it was preached at Edwards church in Northampton with little effect (The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards, Hart, Lucas, Nichols, Eds. p.43). But when it was preached at Enfield ‘the effects were extraordinary’. An eye-witness account by the Reverend Stephen Williams tells that, ‘before ye sermon was done there was a great moaning and crying out throughout ye whole House. What shall I do to be saved-oh I am going to Hell-oh what shall I do for a christ etc. etc.-so that ye minister was obliged to desist. [The] shrieks and crys were piercing and Amazing. (p.43)’. It seems then, Edwards was unable to finish the sermon due to cries of the affected people crying out for mercy.

Rev. Jonathan Edwards, a leader of the Great A...
Rev. Jonathan Edwards, a leader of the Great Awakening, is still remembered for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll just make a few observations with appropriate quotes from the sermon. Followed by a closing application.

Before moving on however, let’s note the title. Three words that do not sit well with our modern world – Sinners, Angry & God.

Once the meaning is grasped and even if it isn’t, people do not like the idea of being called a ‘sinner’. Never have, and never will. Why do people take umbrage and think there is something special about them that entitles a free pass? It’s our pride that is offended; though there is nothing to be proud of before Almighty God. We are all in the same boat. The Bible plainly tells us ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God’. Apart from the Grace of God we are all condemned. It’s a great leveler.

Being angry these days is not an option. Anybody that is angry is in danger of receiving at the very least a bad press or even the sack. But we should be very careful and never think that God’s anger is like ours. God’s anger is always a Righteous & Holy anger. The object of His anger is anything that doesn’t conform to His Glorious character – that’s us. We are rebel sinners, shaking our fists at God – either consciously or unconsciously. And we don’t like anyone pointing that out to us. Frankly, if we had any sense and were in our right mind, this sermon should scare the pants off us and drive us to Christ in repentance and faith.

Note Edwards God (The God of The Bible) is not the modern manifestation of God – a whimsical fluffy deity able to be manipulated by His creatures. Typically, recent discussions in the CofE and the ‘Gay’ marriage debate vision a God that moves with the times without a care for what He has said in His Word (The Bible).

The Sermon

Note the following passages that should disabuse sinful pretentious men of a fluffy view of The Almighty in their rebellion against God:

‘The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this.
“There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell,
but the mere pleasure of God.” By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his
sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation…’

Edwards moves on setting out several ‘considerations’ that back up this truth about God:

‘…. There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men’s hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands.-He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defense from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God’s enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. ….’

God stands as the Potter. We are but clay. Rebellious clay at that. These are terrible truths. In the last paragraph of the section where he lays out our plight before God, he writes:

‘…. thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, ….’

Edwards moves into his application and tells us again the purpose of the message. ‘The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ.’ Sometimes we hear sermons and it can be difficult to know just who the preacher is addressing. Not so with Edwards. It’s those people in the congregation that are rejecting the Gospel and yet still presume come the day of wrath God will welcome them into heaven. This is a sermon of compassion, of love for the people and love for the honour of God and His truth as found in the Gospel of Christ.

Monument in Enfield, Connecticut commemorating the location where Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God was preached

To hear sermons on this topic today are relatively rare. Are they rare because as people, including preachers, we are not so conscious or aware of God’s Holiness and His burning purity or hatred of sin. That’s a bad thing. The fault is in us, not with Edwards. And yet probably like you I’ve sat under so-called Hell-Fire’ preaching where the people are completely unmoved. Some years ago I had the opportunity of preaching to a congregation of elderly people. This meeting would happen once a month. As you stand at the end and they file past to have their cup of tea they say something along the lines of ‘lovely sermon’. You have just preached to them the dreadful consequences of being lost, of not repenting, of rejecting Christ and they say ‘lovely sermon’. They are unmoved – at least outwardly. O how we need the Spirit of God to move in the hearts of the unregenerate, to awaken them (maybe you) to their need. I do not criticised these things, but it’s not our polished delivery, it’s not our pulpit eloquence or our deep learning that raises the dead – it’s the Spirit of God.

Edwards in the final sections of the sermon urges his hearers;

‘And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?’

and also;

‘And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now harken to the loud calls of God’s word and providence’.

And finally:

‘Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation: Let every one fly out of Sodom: “Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.”‘

Observations & Comments

It’s true, it is a terrifying sermon. And yet, it will continue to be dissected, critiqued and criticised. It will also be ignored. Did they not do this with Jesus too when upon the earth.

Even many Christians have never heard of it. Are we embarrassed by it? By its plainness of speech. Does not Edwards accurately describe our condition before a Holy God. Does not Edwards rightly expose us all to the God of the Bible? This is no whimsical deity that can be manipulated by our supposed good deeds. There is only one remedy for our hopeless estate – the blood of Christ!

An Application for Today

Just as Edwards people were not embracing the Gospel, we in the West take for granted the love of God and are just as careless for the things of the true and living God. There’s a lot of talk about God’s love today, but not a lot of talk about it being a Holy & Righteous love. It’s spoken of as if we somehow are doing God a favour by allowing Him to love us. The attitude is that God will love us anyway no matter how much we reject and twist His Word. We re-define marriage, we murder children in the womb, we abuse His good gifts of male & female and yet expect Him to just roll over, ignore His Word and love us anyway. We expect to Him love us with no repentance and without The Gospel. Politicians – like David Cameron & Barrack Obama – speak loosely of ‘The Christian Faith’ or of the love of God but utterly reject His Word and treat The Lord Christ as if He was just one option out a plethora of religions. There are no options. They are presumptuous, in many ways the worst kind of sinner. Christ is the ONLY way, the ONLY truth and the ONLY life. To reject Him is to reject God’s way, God’s truth and God’s life as offered in the Gospel. The are only two options – it’s either repent & believe the Gospel or expect to be cast into hell. The sermon by Edwards is criticised, rejected as abhorrent, as Politically Incorrect, as divisive, as Hate Speech, but is it loving to tell people, sinners, that all will be well when the truth is their Christ rejecting ideologies will sweep them into Hell & Judgement. I say no.

Those of us that by the grace of God have been brought to repentance faith – we know our hearts are wicked and depraved and without the grace of God would be swept into hell. Our hearts too are ‘idol factories’ and are no better than the worst of sinners. Like Paul we know in some measure the terror of the Lord and so persuade men to repent and believe the Gospel of the grace of God.

We perhaps work with people or have family members that have heard ‘the joyful sound that Jesus saves’ but say it isn’t for them. They assume all will be well – whatever that means. But all will not be well. The judgement upon those that have been surrounded by Christians will be truly awful. It isn’t just a case of passing over Christianity in preference for another religion, or even no religion, but they have in fact rejected the grace of God. They are in the world but without hope. They will be lost to the torments of hell.

May we as God’s people be challenged to consider just how gracious and merciful God has been to us. Will you, O lost sinner not see your danger and flee to Christ.

Ideology Defined

When I first read this it seemed like an excellent definition of Ideology. It still is, here it is below for your consideration. The quote is from: Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World by David F. Wells. page 25.

‘What the Enlightenment ideology did was to provide an interpretive grid, an all-encompassing understanding, that was laid over the whole of life. This understanding was not much a worldview as an ideology. Ideologies, we might say, are worldviews with an attitude. The intent of every ideology is to control. With the passage of time and the desire to be triumphant, ideologies tend to become simplistic. They find acceptance because they tap into our need, the Canadian writer John Saul says, “to believe in single-stroke, cure all solutions” often presenting us with stark alternatives: “Accept the ideology or perish. Pay the debt or go bankrupt. Nationalize or starve. Privatize or go moribund. Kill inflation or lose all your money.”

Because they leave only one way out, they become coercive. At the same time, ideologies create a sense of inevitability about themselves. They produce passivity in people because what is inevitable cannot be resisted. And they breed intolerance of those who might be opposed to their understanding of life or might raise questions about it. It is these characteristics which help explain why it is so difficult to challenge an ideology once it has been socially ensconced. And yet this is exactly what has been happening with the Enlightenment ideology since the 1960’s.’


Psalm 2 – The Peoples Plot in Vain

The Reign of the Lord‘s Anointed

Why do the nations rage[a]
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break[b] them with a rod of iron
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.


  1. Psalm 2:1 Or nations noisily assemble
  2. Psalm 2:9 Revocalization yields (compare Septuagint) You shall rule

A Bad Day for Free Speech

My off the cuff comments:

It’s funny thing to carry on as if nothing is happening, or has happened. Most will though, and simply carry on as if nothing has happened. But while we all (rightly) go about our daily business Free Speech & The Freedom of Religion has taken another battering. The ruling over Asher’s Bakery means the end of conscience. It’s clear from todays ruling that conscience, that most precious gift from God, must be aligned with another’s subjective view of how conscience is to be informed. As Christians we believe our conscience is to be informed primarily by a right application of the Word of God – The Bible. There can only be one, ultimately, objective source of ‘right & wrong’ of morality. In our day we are seeing the last vestiges of a ‘right’ means to inform the conscience being dismantled. While the Word of God and the Christian faith continues to be sidelined we ask what is the standard to be applied. It does appear to be the case, that where a conflict occurs between ‘rights’ it will in most cases automatically defer to the Anti-Christian position. But the reality is this; without an objective view of morality supplied by the Word of God the West collectively will slowly but surely itself be sidelined in favour of other civilisations. There is no ‘God-given’ ‘right’ to the West. It will eventually implode on itself. That doesn’t mean the West will disappear, or cease to be a strong economy or the place where many people will seek to find refuge. But it does mean morality will be defined ‘on the hoof’. The situation, or money, or power, or personality, or sexual orientation will decide on all moral cases. This is what must happen when the Bible is abandoned.

The Terrifying Theresa Targets (In)Tolerance

This mornings interview (BBC ‘Today’ programme) with Theresa May was truly terrifying. Amazingly John Humphreys actually asked her if someone were to have a different view about Same-Sex Marriage or Homosexuality: would they fall under the cudgel of her totalitarian proposal. She manged to side-step the great JH but he asked her again, and again but eventually gave up as Ms May gave him the old one two and slipped past him until the topic changed to a more convenient one.

I have no idea what she means by ‘British Values’ or just ‘Values’ but she just kept repeating it like a mantra instead of telling us what it is. ‘British Values’ is one of the clubs Ms May will be beating us with. I suppose we are all supposed to just roll over and go back to sleep and let the Government machine bump its way over our freedoms. Freedoms, I might add, that were fought for by our Fathers. They NEVER fought for this. The other two words used were ‘Extremism’ and ‘Tolerance’. No explanation was forthcoming.

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.”

Best get Humpty Dumpty to define them for all the good it will do to get a definition out of Ms May. We’ll find out what they mean soon enough when more Christians (and probably others, including Atheists) are hauled before the courts for daring to buck the secularist / ‘tolerant’ ideology.

The following excerpts are from a BBC News article: New laws to target radicalisation

David Cameron is to set out a string of new powers to tackle radicalisation, saying the UK has been a “passively tolerant society” for too long.
The PM will tell the National Security Council a counter-extremism bill will be in the Queen’s Speech on 27 May.
The bill will include new immigration rules, powers to close down premises used by extremists and “extremism disruption orders”.
Mr Cameron will say a “poisonous” extremist ideology must be confronted.

And of great concern is this little gem:

She said: “What we are proposing is a bill which will have certain measures within it, measures such as introducing banning orders for groups and disruption orders for individuals, for those who are out there actively trying to promote this hatred and intolerance which can lead to division in our society and undermines our British values.
“But it will be part of a bigger picture , a strategy which will also have as a key part of it actually promoting our British values, our values of democracy, rule of law, tolerance and acceptance of different faiths.”
The measures, she added, will focus on “extremism of all sorts… that is seeking to promote hatred, that is seeking to divide our society, that is seeking to undermine the very values that make us a great country to live in”.

Nowhere are any terms defined. But don’t worry, I’m sure Humpty Dumpty will be on hand to provide one as required. It’s completely bonkers and terrifying. Ironically The Queen is ‘Defender of the Faith’ but will be approving measures designed to destroy it on 27th May.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call.
Psalm 20: 7-9

Is the ‘Gay’ Agenda Totalitarian?

Is the ‘Gay’ agenda Totalitarian?

Answer: Yes.

Here’s the definition copied and pasted from Dictionary.com


[toh-tal-i-tair-ee-uh n]


1. of or relating to a centralized government that does not tolerate parties of differing opinion and that exercises dictatorial control over many aspects of life.

2. exercising control over the freedom, will, or thought of others; authoritarian; autocratic. (One might add, over the conscious of other as well – my comment)

Those  two definitions pretty much cover it.

If you follow the Wiki totalitarian link above you will read the line below

‘a totalitarian regime attempts to control virtually all aspects of the social life including economy, education, art, science, private life and morals of citizens.’

This is exactly what is happening.

And to prove it, try disagreeing, preaching, having a contrary view or holding to a ‘traditional’, better known as Biblical, view of marriage. It is now required that everyone ‘affirms’ and embraces the LGBTQ lifestyle or else.

Using Film as an Evangelistic Tool

I wrote a piece a few years ago for my own interest on the ‘evangelistic’ video ‘Who is this Jesus?’. I am in the process of listening to a series of podcasts by Dr Scott Clark on The Ten Commandments – the latest one I listened to is on Worshipping the Right God in the Right Way. Some of the discussion was on the ‘image’ of Jesus and it made me think of evangelistic films and this film in particular.

So here my scattered thoughts on the video. Hope you find it thought-provoking and helpful.

I sat and watched this video with a member of a church, where the church was intent on using it as a tool for evangelism. While watching I made a few notes, and typed the following scattered thoughts.

The principle behind the use of this video is this, ‘if it works it must be right’. It is my belief that this thinking is to say the least, unhelpful, particularly as you just cannot argue that because something works (i.e., people are converted) it is good or right. We are back again to the regulative principle, a principle that sections of the church would like to hold, but is unable to practice it in a media controlled world. We have to use only those means that God has given to the Church, regardless of – as far as we can tell – whether they ‘work’ or not. If they do not seem to work, then we should call upon the Lord to honour the means of His own appointing.

Some general comments on Video Use

1. Non-objective. It is a subjective use of images and editing.

2. Centred on man. What happens if the subject (the ‘celebrity’ star) i.e. the central character backslides or falls into serious sin? The charge then becomes the opposite of the original premise. That is, ‘look it works’ becomes ‘look it doesn’t work’. Man first, God second. Because of the way it is presented.

3. Relativism. It works for you, or the subject of the film. (See ‘Truth Decay’ p.163 The Hidden Dangers of Relevance) Subjective truth & Absolute truth.

4. Competing images. It tries to play the world at its own game. It will lose.

5. Manipulation. The (any) presentation will be highly scripted, not only this, but lighting, location, clothing, items in the room or ‘set’ etc. The whole presentation will be designed to manipulate the viewer. This is not the view of the apostle Paul and it shouldn’t be ours either.

6. Preaching is the presentation of objective truth. As Paul Cook recently (when I originally made the notes) said at a history lecture ‘we need to get back to preaching, and to believe in preaching’.

7. Many (not all) Media writers, I feel, would urge caution in the use of media where images are edited, scripted, and manipulated.

8. Theology. What is the theology (if any) of the Director and the Producer? This will influence the presentation.

9. Some Christians will argue for it because of the ‘well he uses it at school’ argument. So what has that to do with it?

10. Who is the intended audience? Again, this will greatly influence the production.

11. Is it really glorifying to God and his salvation.

12. ‘Documentary’ tends to give an authority that is probably not warranted.

13. Even if the video is very good, this is still no reason to use this type of method in evangelism.

14. The presenter is alive and likely to change. The presenter has been chosen, not for his spirituality, not for his gifts in exposition or preaching, but for his media personality, that he has a well-known face. In other words, media marketing is the name of the game.

The Video itself

Is it a documentary? Strictly speaking it is a ‘Docu-Drama’ as it utilises actors in playing a role, including playing the role of Jesus. It is a documentary in so much as it is attempting to communicate a series of propositions.

It may be worth noting that if this video presented the case for evolution, I suspect there would be stringent criticism of it.

The Use of Testimony.

You will notice that there is a housewife (a homemaker in these liberating days), a musician, a Rugby player, a care worker and a former gang member. Many differing faiths give the ‘convert’ a testimony. The whole use of testimony, to me is fraught with difficulty. It seems to be the opposite of ‘let me declare unto you this Jesus’. Instead we have ‘let me tell you what happened to me’. It very subtly shifts the centre of attention, from God to man.

Images and music used in the video.

Emotive use of music combined with images, or when talking of the cross.
If this were a ‘Billy Graham’ crusade, many churches would have nothing to do with it, as using emotive techniques to create a response. This video does exactly the same thing. This is particularly striking when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane with use of emotive music and images. As Neil Postman states that the music is there to inform the viewer what emotions they should be feeling at the time.

Content of the video.

As far as I know, the geographical information is correct. However, it is worth mentioning that the Romans flattened Jerusalem in AD 70 putting the exact location of many places in doubt. I would however be more concerned about the message or should I say the lack of message. The gospel as far as I could tell was absent. The question then, is, what is the gospel? Some might say this video is nothing but a tool, a way to open people up, to make them willing to talk about spiritual truths. I commend the desire, but is this video really necessary in that case? Surely as we get to know people, opportunities will come, a word here, a word there, maybe an extended conversation that gives you a real God-given opportunity to ‘preach’ the gospel to them. Maybe they asked the question, what made you become a Christian? Then you can tell them. They will listen. Although the presenter talks of sin, we are never (as far as I could tell) told in necessary detail what it is. Nowhere is sin explained, or judgement (so as not to put people off presumably) or the nature of man. More seriously, the cross is only ever explained in terms of physical suffering and never in its spiritual sense. The physicality of it is far more emotive (making for good TV) than the spiritual aspect. This is quite deliberate. This is the serious point of the video. Any aspect of a filmed production has within it only those items that are meant to be there. It will be highly scripted, which I suppose explains the deliberate need for a professional actor (and actors).
The costumes were pretty poor, it has to be said, the hessian headgear looked brand new which to my mind made it pretty laughable.

We are told that many millions round the world believe. Is this really a valid argument, millions around the world are Catholics or Muslims, or Hindu’s, or Sikhs, or atheists for that matter! We have to stick to a propositional truth because it is truth, not because millions of others think it is true.

I can see what they are attempting in the video, and they are to be commended for their desire, but it is debatable as to what it is that they actually achieve. As for me, I think it is just another way of side-lining or denigrating preaching and further making us less likely to speak of The Lord Jesus Christ without the aid of a prop.

What says the scripture?

2 Corinthians 4:2-5

2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

2 Corinthians 2:17 (also 2:14-17)

14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

The following quotations are from ‘Amusing ourselves to death’ by Neil Postman.

P90 ‘…all television programmes are embedded in music, which helps to tell the audience what emotions are to be called forth’

P119 ‘…not all forms of discourse can be converted from one medium to another. It is naïve to suppose that something that has been expressed in one form can be expressed in another without significantly changing its meaning,…’

P124 ‘I believe I am not mistaken in saying that Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether.’

Cultural Catch Up – Always Reforming

There’s an excellent article by Scott Clark over at The Heidelblog called ‘Always Abusing Semper Reformanda’. I didn’t realise the phrase Reformed, Always Reforming had such a recent history. To have the phrase quoted back at you kind of felt all wrong. To know what you mean, and have it twisted or mangled to mean something antithetical seemed like an own goal. But here’s for me maybe the main paragraph in the article:

“When Calvin and the other Reformed writers used the adjective reformed, they did not think that it was a thing that could never actually be accomplished. Late in his life, Calvin remarked to the other pastors in Geneva that things were fairly well constituted, and he exhorted them not to ruin them. He and the others thought and spoke of reformation of the church not as a goal never to be achieved in this life, but as something that either had been or could be achieved because they believed God’s Word to be sufficiently clear. That is, what must be known for the life of the church can be known and, with the help of God’s Spirit and by God’s grace alone, changes could be made (and were being made) to bring the doctrine, piety, and practice of the church into conformity with God’s will revealed in Scripture. That’s why they wrote church orders and adopted confessions—because they believed that reformation was a great but finite task.”

Note the phrase(s) in bold – that’s my emphasis BTW not Dr Clarke’s, though it’s certainly what he is saying. Like the article indicates it’s a common thing to have the phrase  ‘Always Reforming’ thrown in your face. In my own experience the ‘Always’ aspect of ‘Reforming’ is to do with modern forms of worship.

This brings us to the whole modernising enterprise. I should state that I absolutely love music – all kinds of music. I say because the assumption is that if there’s a problem with modern music in the church there’s a problem with music. This isn’t the case even though a false correlation is often assumed.

Hopefully, having cleared that up, there are styles of music that do not sit well with worshipping a Holy Sovereign God. I should also say I know a number of churches that employ a modern style of worship (choruses & upbeat songs – often but not always complicated to sing) and the Ministers of these churches are good men. However, my concern is for when these good men either move on to anther Pastorate, retire or die. The point should not be lost, made in Dr Clarke’s article, that Calvin was concerned that the gains made by the Reformation should not be ruined (see highlight above). That principle applies to our own day.

The Bible (and history) powerfully illustrates man’s propensity for DE-formation. Something I try to do is take a long-term view of what is happening now. Where will this take the Church in 10, 15, 20 or 30 years from now. One thing we know about De-formation is that it can happen quickly! Not only can it happen quickly but the long-term consequences can take generations before Reformation can take place. Clearly God is able to bring both about, De-formation as a judgement, or Reformation as a blessing. So I do not discount divine intervention – without it we are sunk. Even behind a (sometimes necessary) frowning providence…

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

William Cowper (1731 – 1800)

The Church is always trying to innovate, often out of good motives. Behind this desire to innovate in ‘Reformed’ or Evangelical churches then, is the phrase Reformed, Always Reforming. One important question then, that deserves a longer answer perhaps in another post, is has God spoken clearly on the matter of worship or is it open to our innovations under the guise of ‘Always Reforming’.

So rather than play Cultural Catchup, let’s be content with forms of worship that do not make my foot tap or my body sway in some sort of hypnotic manner. The Church will never be Culturally Relevant. The Culture moves too fast and the Church finds itself just looking stupid. We have something the Culture does not want, but desperately needs – The Gospel of God’s Salvation. Let’s not bury it under a mish mash of outdated so-called cultural relevance. The Gospel of the Grace of God is Always relevant.

Letter to my MP – Same-Sex marriage

Not sure if I’ll get arrested for this, but here’s the letter I just sent to my MP….

Dear Mr ——–,

Given the recent anti-Christian manifestations of just where the Same-Sex Marriage issue has taken us, I thought an email to my Member of Parliament might be appropriate.

I’ve appreciated the fact that you have replied to earlier emails over this issue even though there seemed, to me, to be a veiled threat within them.

The manifestations I refer to are the Ashers Bakery case in Northern Ireland and the Red Cross case dismissal. Just to note: Same-Sex marriage is not legal in NI and the protest by Bryan Barkley was before the law had been passed here. Both cases could, even should, I would think, be open to a counter-claim of discrimination. But I don’t see the Government leading on this. The reason is obvious. The UK Government has made its position clear in that it opposes ANY disagreement with Homosexuality / Same-Sex marriage and would rather ‘celebrate’ an LGBTQ lifestyle.

To me this has been and will be a Vote-Loser. I have voted Conservative many times in the past but I’m no longer able to do so. Regarding Free Speech & Freedom of Religion, I believe Theresa May is a dangerous person believing in neither. That’s Atheists as well saying that about the Home Secretary.

The only party that I’m able to vote for with a good conscience is UKIP. Yes it might be (probably will be) a wasted vote, or even a vote for Labour as it were, but my conscience will be clear. Others will, but I can’t vote for a party that forces me to go against my conscience. At least UKIP seem to understand the need for Freedom of Speech and seeks to uphold it. Unlike the current HS who seeks to deny it. Since my conscience is being assaulted, abused and denied by the Conservative Party (not necessarily individual Conservative MP’s) I have no choice but to vote for someone else.

I’ve wavered at the Ballot box in the past and when push came to shove I have voted Conservative. But not this time. There will be no wavering.

The thing is MP’s generally think money is the only issue. I don’t have a particularly well paid job (???) but I’d prefer to have that and a clear conscience than loads of money. It’s not just the Same-Sex issue. It’s climate change, It’s the response to Islam and the whole politically correct agenda that’s helping to sink this country. If someone wants to believe something else – fine. But I believe in robust dialogue. The Christian faith is abused EVERY SINGLE DAY in one way or another. David Cameron etc really don’t have the first clue about Islam or Christianity. He claims to be a Christian, but his actions clearly show him to be deceived at best. Maybe his advisor’s are feeding him false information.

To conclude. What I really want – I’ve said this before, but things continue to get worse, is a commitment by the Government to Free-Speech. Many Atheists get that and want the same. For believing the Bible, many an Atheist would tell me I’m sick, insane, deluded, stupid, even dangerous. I’m ok with that. That is their right. But I just might speak similarly about them.

I do not want to ‘affirm’ homosexuality (LGBTQ). The Bible is very clear in its condemnation of Homosexuality & Same-Sex marriage. The Bible calls it Sinful. The implications of denying this Biblical teaching is huge. I don’t think politicians quite understand what is at stake. Homosexuality is in one sense a non-issue. We are all sinners, all under the condemnation of God, all have broken the Law of God, all are in need of a Saviour. My sin will take me to hell just as much as a practising homosexual. But if I choose to say my sins are OK I haven’t just re-defined my sins, I have changed everything. God, the Bible, Jesus and every single Bible teaching and ALL morality becomes a wax-nose for me to fashion in any way I choose. Why not have a threesome marriage, or four, or five? I could marry and have sex with my mother, cousin, daughter, son, father. Everything is allowed. Why? Any moral authority for saying those things are wrong has been, or is in the process of being destroyed. Worst of all, if there is no sin, there is no need for a Saviour. There is no longer any good news – no Gospel. This is why (some) Christians are making a noise about this. It’s not simply a lifestyle choice.

I’ll leave it there. If you have read this far, thank you for your time. Sadly I will not be voting Conservative at the next election. And if UKIP get on the ‘Gay’ bandwagon I will not be voting for them either.

Kind Regards,

I’ll let you know if I get a response.