GOD TV interview with Dr Steve Brady

GOD TV recently visited Moorlands College to interview our Principal, Dr Steve Brady, as part of the channel’s special Mission Africa 2017 initiative.

Fergus Scarfe talks to Steve about the passion for mission, and how we as the body of Christ can grow in that mission and express the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations of the world.

The full programme featuring Steve’s interview, plus others with the likes of Daniel Kolenda and Nathan Morris, can be viewed on GOD TV.

My time in Bulgaria

Above: The Bulgarian city of Vratsa at sunset.


I feel blessed that my time at Moorlands College has taught me that the best work we do is when we rely on God. “My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Did this stop me from being filled with fear and anxiety throughout the weeks preceding my block placement? Absolutely not. I had no appetite and sleepless nights for weeks prior to leaving. During my walk to the gate at Gatwick airport, the speakers started to play some creepy ominous music straight out of a horror film, where the foolish protagonist is about to wander into the basement of the haunted house and the presence of the murderous demonic bloodsucking vampire ghost pirate. You can imagine how full of confidence I felt…

My experience here, however, could not be further from that of encountering a murderous demonic bloodsucking vampire ghost pirate. True I have had scary experiences, I have almost been run over multiple times, I have been shouted at by strangers I cannot understand, and I have got lost in strange cities! My trip though, has been absolutely full of beautiful sights (the cities of Mezdra and Vratsa where I was placed are a testament to God’s creative genius), wonderful experiences and truly amazing people who have become dear friends for life. I will never forget mentoring a 16 year old who joyfully starves herself so that others can eat, or the time that I, along with some Germans, spontaneously began barn dancing in a restaurant.

Youth group in Bulgaria

Above: Ben with a group of young people; “dear friends for life”.


I have never before admitted to being a youth worker. Maybe because of a perceived lack of ability or more honestly due to my disregarding the importance of youth work; either way my brain has always rejected the idea of it being my main ministry. Yet, when the email first came through presenting an opportunity of a Youth Pastor position in Bulgaria, somehow all of those previous prejudices disappeared. By the time the opportunity had evolved into going to Bulgaria to work as a Youth Pastor for my block placement, I knew that it was God’s will. And if God wanted me to do it then it must be important! As a result of this, in the weeks leading up to my block placement I had peace in the knowledge that it would be a rich learning experience.

My lack of experience in Youth Work meant that I truly was blindly following God. (“Go to a country you’ve never been, with a language you don’t know, to do a ministry that you have little experience of!”). Sensible or not, I have seen so much of God’s blessing throughout my time here, and this has been most noticeable through my amazing youth group which consisted of boys and girls aged nine to 19. Every one of them has demonstrated the love of God in their own way; having the ability to recognise and appreciate the Spirit living in them is the greatest gift I have ever received from God.

Sofia

Above: The Bulgarian capital, Sofia.


In returning home, my fears and anxieties have switched around; I have set up and led youth Bible studies, played so many games, mentored endlessly and I have had the honour to preach and teach about God’s perfect love, the need for evangelism and the true cost of faith in Christ. I have a peace in my heart that God has and will continue to use my ministry to fulfil his will in the lives of these amazing people. My heart, however, is uneasy with what I have learnt and is not uneasy about whether I have learnt anything (I could fill the college Auditorium with a list of things I have learnt).

Instead, I am uneasy with the implications of what I have learnt. From the moment I arrived, I was welcomed with a love that comes straight from the love of Christ; when I became ill there was a queue of people outside my door offering to help in any way they could. But most noticeably, despite not understanding pretty much anything that is going on, I have been able to sit in the church with my eyes closed and feel the presence of God in a way I have not for a long time. It is a privilege beyond anything else of this world. On my first week here, I was asked to describe the state of the Church in England, at the time I answered generically; briefly describing the liberal-fundamentalist divide. On reflection, to indulge in the game of comparisons, I can only answer that the Church in England is unhealthy at best. I will be content if throughout my future ministry I can see the Church in England become even a little bit more like the Church here in Bulgaria.

Бог да благослови (God Bless)

Ben Holton

Ben is a third-year campus-based BA Applied Theology student at Moorlands College.

Just Right: The Goldilocks Enigma

In his book, Lucky Planet, David Waltham suggests that conditions on earth are “just right” to sustain life—something scientists refer to as the ‘Goldilocks Enigma’.

But are we lucky, or blessed? Vice-Principal (Strategy) at Moorlands College, Ian Coffey is reminded how the study of mother nature reveals more about Father God—and that understanding the world around us requires more than just the ‘how’ of science.

The ‘virtue’ of tolerance

Alistair McKitterick

“The Bible is Right and the Qur’an is wrong.”

How do you respond to this provocative statement? Some might wholeheartedly agree (no doubt mainly Christians) and some would strongly disagree (no doubt mainly Muslims), and others might say they’re both equally wrong. But another group of people again are not interested in the rights and wrongs of this statement (they’d probably deny that there even could be a true answer to it), but rather object to the statement being said at all. The objection? ‘Intolerance’. In one of those delicious ironies, this group is intolerant of such a claim on the grounds of it being intolerant. They don’t so much object to the statement itself; they object to the statement being made.

A recent example of this intolerance was seen in the arrest last July in Bristol of three Street Preachers for preaching the Gospel and then responding to questions about Islam (and they are being prosecuted in court as I write). The police claimed, amongst other things, that these preachers were ‘challenging Muslims’, and it was the challenge itself (not the truth or otherwise of the challenge) that apparently could not be tolerated in our society. This is the ‘thought-Police’ in action. Society, it seems, must be protected from these kinds of truth-claims for its own sake.

There are so many problems with this abuse of power, but the one that seems most unnoticed is the poverty of the value that they are trying to protect. Tolerance is not a virtue, or if it is then it is the weakest and most unhappy of all the virtues. At its best, we leave each other alone to do and say what we want. At its worst, we persecute those who don’t conform to our standards. A society based on this kind of tolerance is always vigilant to stamp out critical views, leaving us anxious about expressing moral judgements for fear of being called intolerant. We daren’t even whisper that someone is wrong about matters of faith and morality. Those living in this kind of society are only free to the extent that they conform.

The society that Jesus envisaged has very different values. It encourages us to be self-critical before criticising others (think logs and specks) and to accept insults without retaliating (think turning the other cheek). It gives to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and loves its neighbour as it loves itself. And it insists on proclamation of the truth of God, and not just an abstract, distant kind of God that nobody would mind much about, but the God who loves the world and wouldn’t simply tolerate it but came right in amongst us and loved us even though those in power found him intolerable. A good society is based not on tolerance but on love and truth. And truth must be proclaimed as such, in love, and to hell with the consequences. Or, more hopefully, to Heaven.

Alistair McKitterick is a Lecturer in Biblical and Theological Studies at Moorlands College.

 


COMMENT

In response to yesterday’s news of the Court’s ruling: Court convicts street preachers in ‘modern-day heresy trial’

This is a turning point in our society. We have become used to being marginalized in the media, and in education, but this trend has now reached a very dangerous point where the secular voices in society have now received judicial backing in the courts.

It has been said in court that ‘To say to someone that Jesus is the only God is not a matter of truth. To the extent that they are saying that the only way to God is through Jesus, that cannot be a truth’.

This is simply wrong. The identity and claims of Jesus are precisely matters of truth, and in fact the central matter of truth. It is precisely here that our society has lost its way by denying the existence of truth. The irony is that at this very point the courts want to assert that their view is ‘true’.

Note this: the court was not denying that Jesus is God; they are not declaring it to be false. They are saying that such claims don’t qualify for being either true or false. They are declaring this to be an opinion, a preference, a prejudice, a value, a subjective feeling, or a matter of private faith. What we must declare back is that our belief in Jesus as God is not a private feeling but rather a matter of public fact, objective truth, and the kind of thing that depends on evidence and reason. If anything in public life is considered a matter of truth or falsehood, then this must also be considered a matter of truth or falsehood.

Now, if anyone wants to declare the belief in Jesus as God as false then fine: let them bring forward evidence for their position and we’ll bring forward our evidence for our position, and may the best evidence win the argument. But if anyone declares that this is not a matter of truth, then that is simply a matter of sheer ignorance or, more worryingly, an abuse of power and an attempt to silence the proclamation of the Gospel.

Alistair McKitterick, 2 March 2017

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Main menu: Finding nourishment on the net

Did you see that Vine of the cat scared by a cucumber? Or scrutinise who wore what to the Grammys and BAFTAs this year? Or find yourself addicted to Trumping Donald?

As well as chewing gum for the eyes, the internet’s also great for serving up food for the soul. Here, a handful of Moorlands College staff recommend their choice of theology blogs, websites and Twitter accounts worth chewing over.

At a time when social media polarises us further into doctrinal comfort zones, perhaps we could all benefit from sampling a larger menu.


Colin Bennett
@BarneyBenne101

Colin Bennett

Andrew Wilson’s Think Theology blog
thinktheology.co.uk/blog
Andrew is a leading light in writing and speaking about applied theological issues. As a church leader he speaks ministerially, pastorally and academically.

Andrew Wilson’s Think Theology blog

Timothy Keller’s blog
timothykeller.com/blog
From ‘across the pond’ Tim seeks to write in a lucid and balanced way, especially about having a theological vision.

Timothy Keller’s blog

Ian Paul’s blog
psephizo.com
My final favourite is Ian’s, who is the general editor of Grove Books. He writes well from a clearly evangelical viewpoint on some hot potatoes, such as gender and sexuality.

Ian Paul’s blog

Colin Bennett is Vice-Principal (Development) and Director of Training for the Community and Family Studies Course. He is a regular writer and speaks on family, youth and community issues.


Andy Du Feu
@andydufeu

Andy du Feu

I’d like to recommend Twitter lists and accounts to subscribe to. How do you find a list you might be interested in? Visit someone’s Twitter profile. Click “Lists” if it is there. Alternatively, just search for a list using key words, such as theology, reformed, charismatic, etc. There are some good accounts to follow, such as @TheologyNetwork.

You can also pick your favourite theologian—they might just be there. For example, @alisteremcgrath often shares his reflections.

Andy du Feu on Twitter

Andy du Feu is Director of Youth and Community Work, and BA Course Leader. He is a qualified youth worker, and has worked in local authority, voluntary, and church settings. Andy has contributed to various publications, and speaks at youth events and churches with his own high-octane and dynamic flavour. And, of course, he’s on Twitter.


Ian Kirby

Ian Kirby

Gailyn Van Rheenen’s website
missiology.org
Gailyn managed to corner the best website name for the personal blog of a missiologist; but he deserves it.

Gailyn Van Rheenen’s website

Eddie Arthur’s website
kouya.net
Always insightful and often provocative as he muses on mission and the state of the world.

Eddie Arthur’s website

Ian Kirby is Vice-Principal (Academic) and Director of Cross Cultural Training. Ian regularly speaks at churches and events and previously resided in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, for ten years.


Sharon Prior

Sharon Prior

Maggi Dawn’s blog
maggidawn.net
Maggie is currently based at Yale University, where she is Dean of Marquand Chapel and Associate Professor of Theology and Literature in the Divinity School.

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Paula Gooder’s website
gooder.me.uk
Working as Theologian in Residence for the Bible Society, Paula seeks to find creative and inspiring ways to help people to engage more with the Bible.

Paula Gooder’s website

Sharon Prior is Senior Tutor and Lecturer at our Midlands Regional Centre, and is fuelled by a passion to see people make a difference where they are.


Tony Thomson

Tony Thomson

Bethinking
bethinking.org
This site is run by UCCF and provides access to very informative articles which are a combination of reading, listening and watching! Areas covered include apologetics, worldviews, religions, suffering etc created by many different individuals such as N. T Wright, Douglas Groothuis, Alister McGrath, and Josh McDowell; they are classified into categories: introductory, intermediate and advanced—a really great resource.

Bethinking

Theology on the Web
theologyontheweb.org.uk
Devised and run by Rob Bradshaw, this site has everything! Over 32,000 free articles are now available on a wealth of different subjects: biblical, theological, historical and archaeological.

Theology on the Web

Best Commentaries
bestcommentaries.com
Includes reviews and ratings of biblical, theological and practical Christian works by the likes of Carl Trueman, Don Carson, Scot McKnight and Tremper Longman. Sponsored by Accordance and Logos it also provides handy direct links from the books to major retail suppliers as well – great for librarians!

Best Commentaries

Tony Thomson is the Librarian, and Director of Learning Support. With the Moorlands College library housing over 40,000 titles, Tony knows the best books and sites to recommend.


Neil Tinson

Neil Tinson

9Marks
9marks.org
@9Marks
Although relatively familiar with some of their books (Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church by Michael Lawrence being a personal, well-thumbed favourite), I only recently discovered 9Marks on Twitter. In line with their general ethos to nurture healthy churches, their tweets are deeply practical. For example, in recent days they’ve explored why “belonging before believing” is a bad idea; outlined steps that churches can take to promote congregational singing, and asked what pastors should preach about hell.

9Marks

Gerard Kelly
@gerardk6
@twitturgies
I can’t think of anyone more quotable—or a contemporary writer and speaker more inspirational—than Gerard Kelly. His unique, poetic way with ideas and words results in popular theological books and talks that are challenging, eye-opening and moving in equal measure. Church Actually: Rediscovering the Brilliance in God’s Plan from 2012 never fails to sock me sideways every time I’m drawn back to reading it, over and over again. His tweets offer a brief glimpse into theological riches.

Gerard Kelly on Twitter

Steven Furtick, Elevation Church
elevationchurch.org
I’m stretching the goalposts of the brief, here, but Steven’s sermons from his Elevation Church network in Charlotte, USA, make for valuable listening (either online, or via the Elevation Church app). They’re also available as online videos, but towards the end of a sermon you might find yourself nudging down the volume as he gets increasingly excitable and energetic…

Elevation Church

 

Neil Tinson is Moorlands College’s Marketing Manager, occasionally teaches on a number of our courses, and is himself currently studying for an MA in Applied Theology with Moorlands. He spends much of his time trying to convince people that Comic Sans is theologically unsound.

Eyes on the prize: A crown for life

After a big weekend of sport—All Nations rugby, the US Superbowl, Davis Cup tennis, running Royals, and league hockey promotion—lecturer Helen Morris reflects back on ancient Corinthian sport during the era of Paul.

While first-century Greek athletes battled for a wreath of withered leaves, Paul urges faithful Christians to instead pursue a prize of much greater significance. But what is the “imperishable crown” to which Paul refers?