The father of compromise

“Vanity, with an eye toward history, is the father of compromise”. Speaking of how Newt Gringrich’s concern for his historical legacy, as Speaker of the House, motivated him to make deals with Bill Clinton in the attempt to do Great Things. Quoted in this West Wing Weekly podcast episode.

 

‘Compromise’, in this context, seen as a good thing: principled compromise.

Late 19th century ministry Fundraising

Intriguing little factoid on late 19th century ministry fundraising:

“In Christchurch, the congregation of St Andrew’s wrote home for a clever minister who was not only a good preacher… but capable of ‘giving an occasional week evening lecture on Astronomy, Geology, Natural History or other subjects of popular and instructive interest.’ Such lectures were very popular & often an important source of fundraising.”

Breward, History of the Churches in Australasia

Unfair characteristics of Calvinism

When I hear critical characterisations of ‘Calvinism’ or ‘evangelicalism’ or ‘complementarianism’ or even ‘Christianity’… Sometimes the criticisms are clumsy, ignorant, unfair or paranoid.

Sometimes they’re just critical. They might understand these well but and just disagree with me about their nature and value. It’d be fragile of me to dismiss these second type by lumping them in with the first.

I think the same dynamic is at work with criticisms of more ‘left’ ideologies like ‘Critical Theory’, ‘Cultural Marxism’ or whatever. Some criticisms are indeed educated and fair. They just might be less sympathetic than the champions of these sensibilities/outlooks are.

Significant changes in universities and student behaviour and what that means for campus ministry

As universities & student behaviour significantly changes in some places, CUs need to be open to the fact that its desired outcomes may not necessarily be done/be done best in an integrated, church-style, campus-focussed ministry of small groups, Bible talks & conferences…

 

But we need to ask how to best achieve these outcomes, even if the model is a bit more fragmented/restructured. These outcomes are:

 

  1. Context for broad, inter-church young adults networks.
  2. Deep, immersive coming of age discipleship/input and worldview/apologetics formation beyond already-resourced churches.
  3. Recruitment ground/training context for Christian leaders.
  4. Evangelism/centre for public Christianity.
  5. Others?

 

Also CUs might have to make strategic decisions about priorities, including and which of these are most need to be organised to reach the largest number of students possible.

Restoration of Israel

Time & again in the OT the restoration of Isarel scattered among the nations is tied to the salvation of the Gentiles. They’re woven together. It is wrong to miss the theme of the restoration of Israel. But it is also wrong to untether it from the salvation of the nations.

 

Recently saw it in Isaiah 11–12

 

Note, too how Paul is happy to skip/collapse the middle step of restoration, for example in Romans 9.

Australian universities not talking about the role of religion and spirituality in community formation

It is revealing how UTAS has no mention of religion or spirituality in their ‘community concept’ for 2021. At best they might think it sits under ‘culture’, which is woefully inadequate.

 

We’re encouraging them to be more proactive in recognising a very important aspect of student community, wellbeing and intellectual life. By including it at several points, “cultural and religious celebrations”, “sport, photography, religious participation”, “formal dining, safe food events, religious fellowship” etc etc etc it triggers those in administration to think-to-think of these various, powerful points of synergy. Even, dare I say it, by only talking about “local charities” it assumes that social goods are merely horizontal, that there is no social good that comes through prayer and scripture and ritual.

Not to mention the talk of indigenous culture in the first point. It’s a lopsided respect for indigenous history and culture to leave out the spiritual dimension.

 

This little book by Stephen McAlpine is a great read for a ministry team or book club…

This little book by Stephen McAlpine is a great read for a ministry team or book club.

 

 

It provides cultural & historical analysis on the current cultural mood in the West & straightforward biblical reflection on how to live as Christians & preach the gospel in an increasingly dismissive & antagonistic context.

 

Stephen’s blogging has a tendency to overblown metaphors, purple prose & sometimes a kind of hysterical shrillness—all part of his schtick. These tendencies are dialled back here, which makes the writing more engaging for a wider audience & better suited for the book format.

 

I certainly didn’t find myself 100% in agreement with every step of Stephen’s cultural and historical analysis. Found myself sometimes thinking to myself “Yeah… could be…” or “… I suppose a bit… but what about…”

 

Some of the solutions and challenges Stephen offers also sound cooler than they are practical. For example, comparing the kind of deep discipleship the church needs to provides to the saturation of media, advertising and Netflix (29)… is a little comparing apples and oranges.

 

For all its interest in highlighting various cultural problems, it isn’t outraged or panicky, nor does it rush to complaints of persecution. Rather Stephen’s says we shouldn’t be surprised, but instead carry on with Christian life, discipleship, community & mission.

 

The closing chapters are exciting in their re-presentation of church life and Christian faithfulness in the world. They are telling us things that are true in every age, simply worded to be relevant to our particular age.

About Xian Reflections

Xian Reflections is written by Mikey Lynch.

Mikey graduated from the University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Arts in 2002. In 2000 he became one of the founding leaders of Crossroads Presbyterian Church where he was the lead pastor for 7 years from 2003.

Mikey now works as the Campus Director of the University Fellowship of Christians, University of Tasmania, Hobart. Mikey is the chairman of The Vision 100 Network (Tasmania) and a founding director of Geneva Push (national) – both church planting networks. He is also a chaplain at Jane Franklin Hall and the chairman of New Front Door: the Church IT Guild.