Archive for November, 2012

What is the Bible?

Posted: November 26, 2012 by reviveleeds in Learning, Opinion, revive
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I may have got myself into hot water. And you lovely people too, my revive friends, since we’re in this together.

I said that the Bible isn’t The Word of God. And I said it on Facebook. I was having a long and protracted debate with a conservative evangelical woman and everything came down to this: true Christians believe the Bible is The Word of God.

I don’t believe it is.

This doesn’t mean that I think the Bible isn’t inspired, or that it’s not THE central and defining text (well, collection of texts) for our faith. For goodness sake, it’s the only place we can go to find Jesus! It’s just that the phrase ‘The Word of God’ comes with a lot of baggage that I’m anxious to avoid.

In the Old Testament it is used quite literally to describe the stuff God says, particularly the law and the prophecies of the prophets. In the New Testament it means both of those, plus the message of the gospel, and of course Jesus himself in John 1. Nowhere does any text claim to BE the word, but many testify that they are quoting the word(s) of God. As Swiss theologian Karl Barth puts it, ‘The Bible contains the word of God,’ and ‘…becomes the word of God when we read it in the Spirit.’ A subtle difference.

‘Why is this even important Simon?’

If the Bible is THE Word of God, then it contains everything God wants to say to us. Everything God has ever said to you in prophecy, in the wisdom of a friend, or in the rustling of a tree is a counterfeit, possibly even demonic. It means that – the source of the original argument on Facebook – God has said everything he wants to say about men and women and what they should wear and what they can and can’t do in church, society and family. I just don’t go with that.

So I thought I should let you know what I said, because ‘Baptist Minister doesn’t believe the Bible is The Word of God’ is a great headline, but doesn’t get at the heart of the debate. Oh alright, argument. Or worse. :-/

It strikes me that we need a grown up conversation about the Bible, one that gets out of the box that my evangelical Facebook sister was trying to put me in. We need to be able to make a positive statement about the Bible, not just say that we don’t believe in the conservative evangelical doctrine of an inerrant, infallible, all-sufficient, historically and scientifically true, once-and-for-all and only one WORD OF GOD. I hate saying that, it makes me sound so negative and critical. I want to say something that shows how much I value this thing, how my life has been changed by God’s work in and through it. How much I love the Jesus I find within it. How much I hate other stuff; sometimes because I find it abhorrent, sometimes because it finds me abhorrent.

But what DO we want to say about the Bible?


ADVENTurous is just round the corner

Posted: November 23, 2012 by reviveleeds in Events, Leeds, Left Bank, News
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Please pass this on!

News from the deep south

Posted: November 20, 2012 by reviveleeds in Events, Leeds, Left Bank, revive
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Some Revive people will remember Sara Heard, who now lives in London. She is exhibiting as part of ADVENTurous, and here’s her lovely interview which reflects her love of Revive and especially Left Bank!

A fascinating R4 programme…

Posted: November 18, 2012 by reviveleeds in Learning

If you have threequarters of an hour, why not discover the life of Simone Weil, one of the most amazing, inspiring and frightening people in the twentieth century (frightening in the seriousness of her faith and her commitment to serve and live alongside the poor):

A quote

Posted: November 17, 2012 by reviveleeds in Quotes

“Discerning signs has to do with comprehending the remarkable in common happenings, with perceiving the saga of salvation within the era of the Fall. It has to do with the ability to interpret ordinary events in both apocalyptic and eschatological connotations, to see portents of death where others find progress or success but, simultaneously, to behold tokens of the reality of the Resurrection or hope where others are consigned to confusion or despair.”

William Stringfellow (No, a different Stringfellow)

The Narnia Experience Lives!

Posted: November 12, 2012 by reviveleeds in Events, Leeds, Left Bank, News
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We now have an official website, which means 99% of the work is done and we can all sit back and wait for Christmas 2013…

Come and see an old, old friend…

Posted: November 2, 2012 by reviveleeds in Events, Left Bank, News, revive
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Noel Moules has been a great friend of revive’s and a background influence. He’s bald, bearded and silvery, but he’s like Brian McLaren in other ways too – he is someone overflowing in love and positivity. I’m just about to start reading his book Fingerprints of Fire, Footprints of Peace and I know I’m going to find it challenging in too many ways!

Noel has kindly agreed to have the northern launch of his book at Left Bank on the 7th December. You can find the details here:

Come along, the event will be fantastic! One of the main purposes of the book is to make the message of Jesus accessible to people who aren’t from the Christian tradition, so it would a great event to bring an open-minded friend to.