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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Tuesday
Jun192007

I am a very fortunate person!

Many of you know that I went to high school in Boksburg. In fact, I went to Sunward Park high school. It was a wonderful middle class South African place to grow up!

Back in the late 80's I never imagined that I would ever leave the African continent (let alone South Africa... Except of course during my Army conscription when I went to places that I could tell you about... But then I would have to kill you....)!

My friend Pete Kropman (congrats on the birth of littley Kyle Matthew, we are still rejoicing with you and Carla!!!) has a travelbuddy map on his facebook profile. Heck, he has travelled! So, I thought I would add one to my profile - I was suprised at how many places I have visited in my short little life!!! Most of them have been in the last 10 years.

My first overseas trip was to Israel and Turkey! However, there have been many other trips to wonerful destinations since. Who would have thought?

Here's my map:










Why not get one of your own? I'd love to see where others have been, or currently are!

Monday
Jun182007

The future of worship... Just realised that I never posted my presentation.

I have been contacted by a few persons to ask for copies of the closing plenary presentation I made on the future of worship. I just realised that I never posted that little talk to my blog.

Here's a reminder about when, where, and what, took place at the Jubilee worship seminar at Alberton.

I was asked to do a workshop on an approach to a theology of worship. You can download the powerpoint slides for that workshop here. The handout for the workshop can be downloaded here. The theological reflection document (used with a clip from the movie 'Yesterday' 1h09 mins to 1h20 mins) can be downloaded here.

I was also asked to do the closing plenary slot for the workshop, it was an incredible honour! However, I was exhausted by the end of the day, and certainly was not on form. Regardless, it went OK (by that I mean, it could have gone better).

This is not intended to be scholarly work. Rather, it was an attempt to think what worship may be for the generation after mine, those young people who are in school now. You can download the text for the closing plenary session here - in some ways I repeated quite a lot of the 'theology of worship' session in this presentation.

I would strongly recommend that you make contact with Rev Barry Marshall for a copy of his opening plenary address. It was an incredible challenge, setting the scene for a remarkable day.

Thanks to Rev Rowan Rogers for arranging the day and taking such good care of us.

Here is the

Saturday
Jun162007

Liam's Baptism 10 June 2007

Sunday the 10th of June was an evening of wonderful celebration for the Forster and Seviour families! It was an opportunity for us to give thanks to God for the miracle of little Liam's life, and to commit ourselves to caring for him, and raising him, in a manner that is fitting of a Christian household.

Christopher Harrison, the senior minister of the Bryanston Methodist Church, where Megie, Courts, Liam and I are members, did the baptism. He was wonderful! After leading us through the liturgy of commitment he baptised Liam and said a beautiful prayer. I need to get the exact words from him since I would love to use it myself in years to come.

However, it went something like:

I touch your heart so that it may be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ.
I touch your eyes that they may see the beauty and glory of God's creation.
I touch your lips that they may come to speak of the majesty of your creator.
I touch your hands that they may loving do God's will.
I touch your feet that they may walk in the path of God's grace and mercy. Amen.
We did not take any photographs during the service. However, we did take a few photos at Gwen and Rhys' house (Megie's sister).

So, here they are. Isn't our boy looking great! I rejoice at God's goodness, mercy, and care for us as a family! I pray that out of the abundance of that grace we may be able to bless, support, and care for others who are in need of that same gracious love!

Liam and Mom giving each other a kiss!


And here's a picture of Courts holding her little brother. Courtney is such a wonderful blessing to us. She stood up front in the Church as we made our promises. It was not only an opportunity to baptise Liam, but also to remember the promises that we made when Courtney was baptised in 2000.


So, once again, thank you to everyone who prays for us as a family. Your prayer, support, and care is a great encouragement and blessing! We cherish and value the wonder of being part of a loving, caring, Christian community. It was for that reason that we requested that Liam should be baptised in the evening service, since this is the service at which I preach, and the service at which we feel most at home as a family.

Saturday
Jun162007

Pen blog from Sony UX 180 and Microsoft OneNote 2007... the results of my surgery.

I'm still in










And yes, my handwriting is this bad! I think it is simply because I am part of that generation that finds it much easier to type than to write (my daughter of 7 could type long before she could write!) I have been typing and txtng for so many years that I have forgotten how to hold a quill and ink!

As to the surgery... Nothing spectacular... The operation went well. I had two cancerous growths removed (and was converted to a 'sports model' at the same time - you're next Wes!). The doctor (a real one!) was happy with the outcome of the surgery. He is confident that the cancer had not spread, and that he has removed all of the offending bits - getting older is a real bugger! I am still waiting for the results from some tests, but all seems fine. It has left me somewhat tender, as you can well imagine, with quite a few stitches in places that shouldn't have them! However, I am relieved that it all went well.

There we go... Now we say no more about it!

Tuesday
Jun122007

A fun little Bible Quiz!


Think you've got more brains than Homer!? I was sent the little Bible Quiz below by my good wife Megan!

It is a tiny little Java application, so simply click on the link below, it will open in a new page, follow the instructions, then come back to let us all know how well you know the Bible!

If you ask REALLY nicely I'll tell you how I scored (let's just say for the more Theologically astute among us, my Marcionite leanings were exposed).

Click HERE to start the Quiz.

Blessings,

D

Tuesday
Jun122007

A resource for Society Stewards and Circuit Stewards (sometimes called Elders) in Methodist Churches

I have just completed writing up a little resource for Society Stewards and Circuit Stewards (sometimes called Elders) in Methodist Churches.

This document is an attempt at laying a foundational theology for the ministry of these important lay persons in our Methodist Churches. My document draws on four primary sources (all listed of course):

1. Tim Attwell's ecclesiology paper for DEWCOM.

2. My document that discusses orders of ministry (with particular reference to Ordained Deacons in the MCSA), also prepared for DEWCOM.

3. A superb little booklet written by Ken Leverton (from which almost the entire last point comes) - "Your ministry as a Steward" Leverton, K, 1996:21. Methodist Publishing House. Cape Town. Sadly this little booklet is currently out of print (hence the need for my little document).

4. The Laws and Discipline of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (10th Edition! Note the edition number please, I did not have the 11th edition at the time of writing. As soon as I get a copy, I'll update the references).

So, here's the document entitled:

Your ministry as a Steward in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.doc

Tuesday
Jun122007

The Theological Society of South Africa

For those who are budding theologians, and those who have already blossomed, the Theological Society of South Africa (this is the South African society for professional theologians, much like the board of chartered accountants is for accountants, in South Africa) will be meeting at our humble seminary from Wednesday to Friday next week. One can be nominated to membership of the society once you have a Masters degree in Theology, and then once a member, one is expected to conduct research and present it at future gatherings.

The theme for this year's conference is:

Saints, martyrs and ancestors: Theological reflections on prophetic witness

Clearly, this is a very topical issue for consideration among African theologians! I am very proud to say that the Methodist Church of Southern Africa is extremely well represented on the program. And, that we have four scholars from our faculty at John Wesley College presenting papers (Dr Joan Jackson (formerly Millard)- who teaches Church history, Dr Neville Richardson -our principal and lecturer in theological ethics and Wesley studies, the ALMOST Dr Wessel Bentley (his doctorate is in, being marked as we breath!) - who teaches Systematic Theology, and yours truly, uQira Mfundisi uDokotela Dion Forster - lecturer in Systematic Theology and New Testament).

I have included, for anyone who is interested, the program with the list of sessions, and a document that contains the abstracts for each of the papers that will be presented. I, personally, cannot wait to hear Wessel, Neville, Joan, and of course Klaus Nurnberger (on Richard Dawkins' God delusion).

TSSA07 Final Programme.doc

TSSA07-Proposals2.doc

Tuesday
Jun122007

iPhone.... STILL want one! Why?! Because iLike!

Yesterday Pete Kropman poked me on facebook (no, that's not rude... If you don't understand it you're starting to get old!) and wrote on my wall (no that's not illegal in facebook) to ask if I had been watching the Apple WWDC (that's the Apple World Wide Developers Conference) keynote.

I had not... I have been marking (that's 'grading' for the yanks) first year ethics scripts... About 200 of them.

However, this morning my friend Arthur sent me a link to this youtube video about the iPhone....

Art! Impersonation is the sincerest form of flattery!!!! I still want an iPhone... Mainly to use as sideburns and a cheese grater (watch . Heck if I wanted to make phone calls I would use a land line... Remember those!?

So, the moral of the story is: Save your shekels for an iPhone, Oh, and look me up on facebook. Surprisingly, my name is Dion Forster... And I'm too old to be on facebook....

NOW, just a quick note to say that I am preparing a post on little Liam's baptism that took place this last Sunday. It was a truly special evening. We were able to give thanks to God for his miraculous life, and dedicate ourselves to caring for him and raising him in a manner fitting of a Christian family.

I'll post some thoughts, photos, and a reflection in the next couple of days.

Some of you already know that I am facing a bit of uncertainty this week. I go under the knife, so to speak, on Thursday for surgery and a few tests. Please pray for me even if you don't know what it is about. News will follow.

Friday
Jun082007

So, Wessel, when is yours happening!?



Can anyone figure out what the image in this picture is saying!? It is something that my friend Wessel will have to do in the next month or so... It is an integral part of getting one's doctorate!

So, come on, who's going to get it right? What are they saying?

Wednesday
May302007

Our darling girl and the miracle kid

Yesterday the miracle kid, AKA Liam the Great, went for his checkup with all of his doctors (trust me there are many of them!) and also went to be weighed (not as traumatic for men as for women, also at this stage of life it is a good thing to pick up weight!), and of course to spend a couple of thousand rand on injections (to our medical aid, thanks for nothing... Well, not quite nothing... R3000 out of R60 000 is something, I guess! That's why we pay them the big money! They're smarter than we are).

Here's a picture of little Liam doing during the day what he should be doing at night. It's called sleep, other people have told us about it. One day we will re-discover what it is like ;-)


Doesn't he look all grown up? He is so peaceful. Friends, you may never be able to understand what an incredible joy and blessing it is for Megie, Courtney, and I to see our little miracle boy like this. He is free from machines, he looks chubby, and with the exception of
a few little niggles with his left limbs he is perfect in every possible way. I don't know how anyone cannot believe that God is not active, engaged, compassionate and loving? By the way, for the those who are interested in a creative and novel approach to the the theology of providence, check out Rob Bell's DVD 011 called 'Rhythm', it's in the nooma series.

Here's a picture of Courtney and Liam together watching a bit of TV on the couch! Courts is such a gift to Liam, and of course an incredible gift to us. She has been so wonderful throughout the last six months. In her I have seen a compassion, maturity, and child-like faith that I wish I could rediscover! We give thanks for both of our children.


So, I am reminded that in the midst of all of the things that matter, there are some things that matter more. Worship is about discovering truth, declaring it as truth, and then making that truth become more and more real in one's daily life. Today I worship the God of all creation for the miracle of life, for the safety of living within God's faithfulness, and for the joy of knowing that I receive undeserved grace...

Thank you for your continuing prayers for us. We cherish the thought of knowing that there are people who remember us in the intimacy of God's presence. Just as an aside, quite a few of you have contacted me to say that you take up the discipline of fasting during of the week (quite a few of you join me on a Friday). I still engage in that simple act - it reminds me just how much I need God. It creates a realisation in me that in my world of privelage I am still the same as every other person who must eat to survive, and so my ministry must bring food to the hungry. It also reminds me that I am often more hungry for physical food than I am for the true bread of life, Jesus. For those who have not done so for a long time, why not consider giving up just one meal? Give that food to someone who needs it more than you do, and give the time to God, the one who sends the bread of life, like manna in the desert, that will take away your hunger for all eternity....

Anyway, here endeth today's sermon ;-)

Sunday
May272007

Let's talk! Homosexuality and the Bible.

This evening I met with some of the senior members of our congregation to give an account of my stance on the same sex issue.

They were wonderfully gracious, incredibly understanding, and treated the subject, and me, with earnest and sincere integrity, seeking to understand, yet at the same time having the freedom to disagree when feeling inclined to do so. Thank you for your grace and understanding. Whilst we are not all on the same page with regards to an appropriate Christian response to persons of a same sex orientation, we are on the same page with regards to our love for Christ, our desire to see the Church remain one and undivided, and the fact that Christian scripture is authoritative and is the primary source of God's revelation.

Of course, each one of us approaches that same sacred text from very different perspectives, with a different life's history, differing experiences of the same God, and so also with different 'interpretive lenses' that shape what we read, and how we read and apply the text in our lives. This is often the source of misunderstanding. So let me say a few things about the lenses that inform my approach to God's Word.

I for one accept that all of scripture is God breathed (or God inspired), as the Word of God, however, I know that I have come to understand certain texts as being fundamentally culturally and contextually bound and so such texts are in need of some interpretation (for example those texts that suggest that women should not speak in Church, or that Christians may own slaves and still honour God in doing so, or some of the Old Testament dietary laws relating to pork etc.). I accept, without too much effort, that these elements of the Bible need to be understood as addressing particular cultural and social issues (for example dietary laws helped to keep people healthy - however, pork is no longer dangerous to eat (except of course of your cholesterol is as high as mine is!), injunctions about what is socially acceptable for women to do in the ancient near-east were about maintaining order in worship in a culture that frowned upon women taking a lead when men where present - most of us would certainly agree that society has changed significantly and that very few persons would find a woman in leadership offensive to their faith. And what about ethical statements made to Christian slave owners? These statements were clearly made in a context where ownership of slaves went unquestioned, so the issue is about being humane to those in one's service, not about ownership of others persons.

There are other even clearer examples of Biblical injunctions that many of us would not hesitate to 'interpret' through our 'modern lenses' as being so context bound that God would certainly not expect that we apply them unquestioningly. Let me list a few examples of texts in the Bible that I choose some interpretive license with - for example the expectation that I am entitled to sell my lazy daughter into slavery [Ex 21:9] (after all at what age does she become productive? How should I measure her productivity in this day and age? Would I not be transgressing Paul's injunction in Romans 13 to obey government laws by putting a child to work in this day and age? If so, which law do I obey, Exodus or Romans?), or what about my neighbour who works on the Sabbath, she is a nurse, Ex 35:20 says that she should be put to death for doing so. Does God really still expect me to do this? If so, what would you suggest is the best possible way to do it? Or what about the fact that the senior pastor of my Church should not be allowed to go near the altar, or even enter the temple, since he does not have perfect 20/20 vision (he wears glasses as proof of that fact) which is clearly prohibited by Lev 21:20.... and the list goes on. These examples, however, help to make my point. I hope that you will agree that we all choose some measure of interpretation when it comes to the Bible. Consistency in interpretation would thus seem to be the only integral approach in such a reality.

Now please hear me, that this does not mean that we must throw such texts out of the Canon of scripture, or that the Bible does not still maintain its authority! No, rather it means that we MUST always approach the text with a great deal of humility, sensitivity, and rigor, being constantly dependent upon the God who breathes authority into the text, and Christ who is the true Word, to help us understand God's will and desire through the texts that we read.

Please could I encourage those who wish to understand why I hold the views that I do, particularly in relation to sacred Scripture, to read the article below? It is not very long, but it will help you to understand the 'lens' that shapes my reading of the 5 texts that are usually associated with homosexuality and the Bible.

I am not asking that you change your mind, but simply that you understand that my position is based upon a deep conviction that has been shaped by much searching, committed prayer, and what I believe to be a far more responsible approach to scripture - letting the text tell me things, rather than trying to tell scripture what I want it to say to support my individual, or society's, prejudice.

Of course there are many other things, and people, who have helped me to understand that God loves gay people. However, that is the content of another post.

Here's the article: Walter Wink homosexuality and the Bible.rtf. It is in Rich Text Font (RTF) format. You should be able to open it in MS Word.

Once you've read it, let's talk! My great desire is to be obedient to God, and to be effectively used by God, to share grace and love in God's world. Please feel free to post comments. I promise to hear you with the same integrity and respect that I ask from you. However, please do read the article before posting.

Together with you in Christ,

Dion

PS. Please excuse the poor formatting in the Walter Wink article. I scanned it from a paper copy I got some years ago.

Friday
May252007

An anonymous encouragement... Who we stood for.

The following email came to my 'inbox' this morning.  It reminded, once again, just how worthy this cause is, that it is a cause to be with people who love Jesus, and not an issue about someone's sexual orientation.


I don't know who the email came from.  However, I can tell you that it will sustain me for a long time to come!

Much blessing and thanks to the anonymous mailer!

Here's the email:

Recently our minister announced in church that a pro-gay lobby amongst the ministers had disrupted the synod by asking for the right to marry homosexuals. While drinking tea after church there was a heated debate as to why Christians would even entertain such ideas and particularly why Methodist ministers would risk their futures "after all there are no gay Methodists" "who did they think they were standing for". Perhaps you are wondering who you were standing for -- you were standing for me. I thank you for your courage. I am a leader in the Methodist Church (no stranger to synods) known to many as a friendly single person who just hasn't found the right one. Only the very astute are aware of the truth, the very different truth. I came to love Jesus as a teenager, around that time I realised I was attracted to boys and youth was the place to be - there was a never ending supply of boys who loved each other "in the Lord". Being gay was no problem because I was indoctrinated to believe that sex belonged in marriage and as there was no way boys could get married and so there was no way that I get to do the wicked thing of sleeping with another man. So I became over committed to the Church, diverted my sexual energies, hung on to the fact that St Paul seemed to think that it was best not to marry and in strange way my flaw had made me holy. The constant condemnation of homosexual acts by the church and her leaders taught me never to mention the subject and change subject when ever it was brought up.
Amongst the pagans I found those who were gay and proud, those who left the Christian way because their sin was so gross. Those who still loved Jesus although they had been thrown out of the church, by ministers, leader's meetings and formal courts of the church as well as those who knew they were not welcome and left before the pain.
I also found the invisible group of us who are still there in your pews, teaching your children giving our money. For those who know, or suspect there is a reverent silent. A unspoken conspiracy.
I still believe that the place of sex is in marriage and yearn to be married. My "strange" conviction and the realisation that marriage is impossible has kept me from relationships (why go there if it can never be fulfilled). Sadly it hasn't kept me from anonymous sex.
Because of the constitutional Court I am shifting, but am so deeply entrenched in church that I doubt I will ever fulfill my yearning if the church can't recognise my relationship.
You stood for me, that I might one day be able to be fully human and truly holy.
We will continue to interact if miracles do happen one I may get married in your church and then you will put face this message but till then in the word of John Donne.
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
Thank you my friends...