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Showing posts from December, 2014

Where are the Whitefield Celebrations?

Yesterday, as the 16th December ticked past and we all raced towards another Christmas, we in the UK missed George Whitefield's 300th birthday!
How was this allowed to happen? Our American cousins were full of celebrations yesterday, honouring Whitefield through articles, blogs and books. Indeed, owning him as their very own hero of their very own brand of reformed Christianity. This is not a bad shout, but he is ours, and we have forgotten him!

Although Whitefield courageously crossed the Atlantic many times to serve in the colonies, the main impact and fruit of his unparalleled preaching ministry was here in the UK.  My personal view is that George Fox another neglected Englishman from an earlier generation, and the contemporary of Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, had more of a shaping effect on both American Christianity and constitution. However, there is no doubt that Whitefield's magnificent preaching gift foundationally influenced the States.

In an era of dead English religi…

Through Advent with Cranmer

Regular readers of this blog will have heard me wax lyrical about one of my heroes, Thomas Cranmer on numerous occasions. His 1549 and then 1552 revision of the Prayer Book would have changed English social history for ever had Edward VI only lived a few more years. As it was, Edward's untimely death meant the end of a reformed Prayer book, and soon after, an end for Cranmer, burned alive at the stake under Queen Mary.

We reformed modernists have turned our back on the old church calender with it's connection to the land, the seasons and the peoples of another age. However, the nuances of Cranmer's measured language, and his systematic teaching of theology to those who knew nothing of the gospel or the grand narrative of God's dealings with men, has yet to be surpassed in any generation. Quite simply, Cranmer discipled the entire English tribe with his short daily prayers and scripture readings. His biblical ideas gradually becoming established and embedded in a nation …

Still

Advent has begun. Advent meaning arrival, coming, dawning.We use the word for things inconsequential, heralding the advent of the latest tablet computer or mobile phone. But the Advent with a capital A which we remember again this December is something, someone altogether more noteworthy. This Advent was heralded not by press releases, but by actual heralds - Angels and stars!

If Advent is all about the arrival of the Saviour, then our response is to make room. To create space in this Advent in order to ponder, reflect, prioritise, worship. The old carol writer Phillips Brooks, in 'O little Town of Bethlehem', put it this way.
'How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given,
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.'

It's impossible to know what emphasis Brooks intended for that vital little word in the fourth line, 'stil…