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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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Entries in heaven (4)

Friday
May062011

God, this world, and heaven.

So much of what I write about, teach about, and do, (or at least try to do), is to help Christians realize how important they are for God's purpose to transform and heal the world in which we live daily - 'our world'. Far too often we place our emphasis on 'heaven' and in doing so we neglect the earth.

The following quote expresses so clearly how I feel about faith and life:

The Kingdom of God … is about the transformation of this world into holiness, not the evacuation of this world into heaven.
~ John Dominic .

This concept is expressed even more clearly by my favorite South African Bishop, Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

I don’t preach a social gospel; I preach the Gospel, period. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. When people were hungry, Jesus didn’t say, ‘Now is that political or social?’ He said, ‘I feed you.’ Because the good news to a hungry person is bread.
~ Desmond Tutu.

Heaven is important, but so is the earth! God's plan for you is a plan for your life today! Don't miss it!

Friday
Apr012011

Rob Bell - Love Wins

I picked up my copy of 'Love Wins' after I saw a young friend, Ryan Vermooten, reading it when I visited LA last week. Ryan is extremely contrarian. He has dreadlocks, multiple piercings and both his arms are works of contemporary art - I love looking at his tattoos! But, Ryan is passionate about Christ and the ways of Christ. He is doing his DTS (discipleship training school) with YWAM (Youth With a Mission - an international evangelical mission agency). In fact as I write this he is serving on a mission in Haiti - that's deep, sincere, Christ-like, commitment!

Perhaps, Ryan is the kind of person for whom 'Love Wins' was written? I have encountered many young people who are passionate about Christ and the ways of Christ, yet they are less passionate about the narrow theology and approach of traditional evangelical Christianity (particularly as it is expressed in the Western world).

Please take a few minutes to read Ryan's perspective on 'Love wins' here. It sat next to him as he typed this... It is awesome to see a person who loves Jesus think so deeply and critically about our faith, the contemporary debates within the faith, and about ways in which we cultivate an authentic witness to the person of Christ!

I will start reading the book this weekend and then let you know what I think about it. The review below has been quite helpful in framing my approach to the book.

invisibleforeigner:

I had been eager to pick Love Wins up for while. I’ve read both Velvet Elvis and Sex God, and found both simplistic and boring, but I figured a book about an evangelical universalist understanding of hell might be interesting. Once I got past the strange prose, the book was engaging, and I can see why evangelicals are up in arms about this issue.

Love Wins asks a lot of good questions that evangelicals, at least in my experience, are afraid to ask. As someone who has wrestled with the idea of hell, I found myself sympathizing with Rob Bell’s determination to challenge people who might be too complacent about the existence of hell and the eternal damnation of the people around them. Love Wins is very good at talking about the beauty, glory, and mercy of God. God is radiant in this book, and some of the extended meditations on the overwhelming God has for his creation were heartbreaking, in a good way. His view of creation as a place that reveals and displays the glory of God is a powerful corrective of an unfortunate Christian tendency to treat heaven and hell as distant places in the future, and reminds us that what we do in this world important.

Unfortunately, that’s all I really can say that is positive about Love Wins. I think part of that is because I am not the book’s intended audience. Rob Bell is reaching an audience of evangelicals who are disenchanted with a narrow view of a vicious God who condemns people to hell for no good reason, and I commend him for that. However, this book should be the start of discussion, if we have to talk about it at all. Bell messes up basic elements of theology and church history; he treats people like Origen as venerated mainstream church fathers, when the reality is far more complicated; he misquotes Martin Luther; he assumes the worst of opposing views of hell; he calls other views of salvation tribalistic and narrow-minded; he treats demonstrably poetic language as literally as possible when it suits his purposes.

In the end, he reminds me of a less educated version of N.T. Wright, or even of C.S. Lewis. Lewis writes a powerful rebuttal of a narrow view of hell in The Great Divorce, and yet manages to convey that approaching heaven is a terribly painful process, one that will demand the total casting off of everything we held dear. Love winning in The Great Divorce requires losing ourselves utterly, while in Love Wins it just seems to demand infinite amounts of time. While I’m sympathetic to Bell’s worries about hell, I can’t quite say that I’m convinced. I think he tries too hard to make the Gospel palatable, and sin insignificant.

I know that Bell is writing towards a specific audience of evangelicals, particularly the ones who are bitter towards a God they think is cruel. I think a lot of the people who read this book will be pushed towards a deeper understanding of who God is, what Jesus did, and what salvation and sanctification are all about. I know that this book should be taken as an introduction to people who have no idea about the depths of Christianity, and the best case scenario will be that this book will cause people to seek out people like N.T. Wright, and hopefully continue on to reading church fathers like St. Athanasius.

However, I also know that there will be people for whom this book is the last word. Instead of freeing Christians to explore the depth and breath of God’s faithfulness and their faith in full, this book could be the end of the questioning for some. For that reason, I found the book shamefully lacking. Other elements of Christian thought, such as the concept of realized eschatology, which both John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas write extensively about, would have strengthened Bell’s argument, and would have been far more convincing than platitudes about how a God that damns his creation to hell cannot be loving and glorious. The Eastern Orthodox understanding of theosis and the impassibility of God would have been a welcome addition to a text that is sorely in need of depth.

In the end, I hope that this book allows people to seek out what makes Christianity great. I hope people find Jesus in these pages, but I don’t think I did.

If you've read the book I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday
Feb182010

A little piece of heaven on earth. The single track on the Helderberg mountain

This is one of my favourite places on earth - the start of the single track on the top of the Helderberg mountain. It is about 12km's from my home, of which the last 8 km is a 1000m climb to the top. The ride down is awesome! Lots of switchbacks, lots of technical stuff - I'm convinced that it is some of the nicest singletrack in South Africa.

I meet God here on my bike very often! My head clears, my thoughts become focussed and I find myself drawing nearer to God as I ride.

Sadly I heard that the access to this part of the mountain will soon be restricted. We normally enter about half way up Silverboomkloof road (on the right), then there's a little bit of single track, a short climb and then onto the contour paths on the way up. If there is anyone who has any contacts with someone on this farm PLEASE drop me a line! I would love to be able to keep the access open!

I recently read about a guy who started a 'braai church' (a 'cookout' Church, where people gather once a week to try out new recipes, cook different kinds of meat, but of course also to share their lives with one another, have some prayer and learn a few things about their faith).  I often think of this as the Church of Cycling, or my Cycling Church!  I have a lot of time to share with the guys and ladies that we ride with.  I often pray with people, offer a listening ear and some encouragement.

How do you connect with God? 

Friday
Aug242007

Have you ever wondered!? What's the difference between Catholic and Protestant heaven?

I met a friend the other day who used that cliched old phrase that Catholics and Protestants have used about one another since just after the Reformation "I guess they're Christians too..." It always makes me want to ask "what makes you so sure that you're a Christian!?"

Something of 'the otherness' of Catholicism, the structure, the depth of the liturgy, the rich symbolism of vestments and icons, has always attracted me as a Protestant... Although, can I tell you a little secret? Can I? I was baptised Catholic! My mom is Irish. So, according to the Pope, even though I am an ordained Methodist minister, I am nothing more than a lapsed Catholic!

So, I guess I'm a Metholic! Ha ha! So, have you ever wondered what the difference between 'Catholic heaven' and 'Protestant heaven' would be? Well, here's a thoroughly sensible, and theologically rich video of the difference between the two!

I know which one I prefer!

Seriously, if you would like a real, and thought provoking, take on joy in the Christian faith, please check out my friend David's wonderful post here: Alternative party plans.