Firm


A couple of days ago Stephen Court blogged a list of nine affirmations he found somewhere on someones blog, I think. He didn’t quote, so I can’t either. Here they are:

1. I believe the doctrines of The Salvation Army;
2. I believe that we should (and can) be holy;
3. I believe that we should (and can) win the world;
4. I believe that lots of people are going to hell forever (some who never got saved, and some who lost their salvation);
5. I believe that signs and wonders and prophetic and deliverance will play a big role in winning the world;
6. I believe that charismatic cell-based Christian communities are the most effective means of accomplishing mission today;
7. I believe that God can do something unprecedented with The Salvation Army.
8. I believe that The Salvation Army is a revolutionary movement of covenanted warriors exercising holy passion to win the world for Jesus.
9. I believe that covenant is the only hope of avoiding the international fragmentation of The Army within 20 years.

They are an excellent summation of salvationism. I’d want to add something about our call to the poor – the lost the last and the least, but otherwise great. Actually, they are in essence a good summary of all the good stuff that has been coming Stephen himself for the last decade, its the emphasis of every faithful salvationist and I hope that people would hear those things under my ministry.

Those nine little sentences evoke hope, faith, vision and joy and are just an excellent reminder of what I, as a Salvation Army officer, am about.

In this last year or so, you’ve probably noticed, I’ve had some serious doubts and concerns, not about God or my faith, but about my calling and more specifically, my calling as a Salvationist. No doubt they are from the enemy, trying to divert me off track. However, God – gracious, faithful and merciful as he is – has used this last year in a serious time of solidifying and confirming…not to mention shaping and refining. I maybe needed it again just to confirm that resolve of my heart.

I am sincerely in a place today where I can thank God for it all.

Like Stephen said when he posted them, there are some who don’t sign up to this for whatever reason, either through ignorance or through determined objection, perhaps. We can’t always do much about the determined objectors, but there is certainly great purpose in teaching and instructing those who just haven’t heard salvationism described in these ways.

It is my hope, over the next nine blogs, to take each statement and just give comment. Hope you’ll tune in and wade in with your tuppence.

Vision


I went to the doctors a couple of weeks ago to have a medical done so that I can drive our minibus here at the corps. I just, only just, passed it because my eyesight, without my glasses on, is only just on the required figure.

“Your vision is only just good enough” said the good doctor.

In my heart, my vision is huge. The struggle, with any vision I think, is how to get it out of the heart, onto the paper and more importantly, into action. I’ve spent these last months since end of July doing very little other than trying to listen to the Lord. The enemy has intercepted some of this time with annoying distractions such as health and other stuff, but its been a valuable time of listening to God and to others in the community.

I’m going to start speaking hypothetically here, because although we have a few firm plans for development on our Torry front, we have still so many gaps. What I’m writing now is certainly what might be how Torry and our work here looks, but its mainly what is on my heart as a Salvation Army officer and how I see ministry.

I guess, in terms of values and ‘ideology’ my framework is very much that of the 614 network although, as you’ll see later, when it comes to methodology I may differ in vision slightly. The 614 network hinges on the passage of scripture in Isaiah 61, but verse 4 specifically

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

In that context of the city, we want to be making plans to give people a hope and a future…not just for heaven, but here on earth (cf Jeremiah 29:11).

Rebuild, restore, renew, plans, hope, future.

Discussions are already underway in Torry becoming 614 Torry to identify ourselves with that theological framework. The netork is quite diverse in expressions of corps, although there are two or three who are what you could call ‘primitive salvationist’ which is much of where my mission ‘pattern’ lies. There are, of course, strong cross overs in any ‘stream’ attepting to capture the essense of The Army.

Primitive Salvationism is ‘charismatic-flavoured, mission-focussed, heroism.’

“charismatic-flavoured…”
– its about operating in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit; fully open to all the the Holy Spirit might accomplish in and through us, believing on Him for more, being free to engage in mission as the Spirit enables!

“…mission-focussed…”

– it is about recovering a heart for the lost and a passion for the gospel. It is about the desire to move beyond maintaining the status quo to being driven by our God given mission.

“…heroism!”
– it is about recognising that we are to be voices for the oppressed and suffering as well as being lifters up of the fallen. The world is in the grip of hell…we are sent to the rescue!

In very practical terms: committed to evangelism, outpost planting (through initiatives such as mmccxx to see corps/outposts started in 2000 cities in 200 countries within 20 years), strong commitment to prayer, focus on authentic Christian community by building cell/ward corps, incarnational ministry to the poor, with a strong commitment to training up covenanted warriors to engage in the fight.

With all that as my own personal sort of ‘vision for ministry’ there then simply comes to the questioning as to how the Lord wants to see it in the front I’ve been deployed to. Thats the exctiting bit. Its where the tyres hit the runway!

So, there you have it, my vision for my officership…this is what God has been forging in my heart for these last 13 years as a Salvationist and I thank God for it. If I could keep sight it it more clearly, I’d do better, but by the grace of God I’ll win!

(Credit to Lieutenant Peter Lublink at pointful.ca for the artwork used here)

I wonder…

I’ve been asking myself this week why I am theologically conservative. That might not have been the question at the top of your list this week, but for some reason its at the top of my mine. By theologically conservative, I mean that I’m a bread and butter theology man…’regular’ evangelical theology does me just fine.

What does that mean? I believe in the absolute authority of the bible and that its the word of God, the trinity, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ both in terms of salvation and his divine and human nature. I believe in good old repentance, faith and generation being necessary for salvation. I believe that we can be holy and that we must. I believe in original sin, including a 6 day creation and a physical Adam. I believe that God’s grace is readily available at all times and in all places and is not restricted to any form. I believe that the power of pentecost is just as powerful today as it was 2000 years ago. I’m your typical evangelical. I believe in a literal Heaven, a literal Hell, a literal Judgement at the end of the world. I believe Jesus will come again and that we’ll reign with him. I firmly believe in the Great Commission and see the church’s role as one of completing that until Jesus declares it finished.

I debated two years through Bible college and a year through Training College for the ‘regular’ position. I’ve debated in almost every other setting you can think of too. I continually get perplexed by those who find it difficult to believe these things. For me, knowing God is not about questioning God, probing God, stretching God, bending God, accommodating God. Its about God questioning, probing, stretching, bending and making no accommodation for me other than being willing to hear my prayer.

I can present pretty much every theology contrary to the ‘regular’ so I’m by no means ignorant or uninformed. I am, however, narrow-minded. I seek to bring down any arguement that sets itself up against the gospel, just like old Paul said he intended to. You see, I’m just not willing to compromise what appears to be very clear from scripture. I’m narrow. I don’t claim to be a know it all, and I certainly don’t do any of my debating from an arrogant stand-point, regardless of what folks may think. I am simply jealous for God and his Word and I’ll defend it ’til the cows come home. If confidence is often mistaken for arrogance in this world, then I’m happy to be arrogant.

But….Why? I cannot think of any other than this: Jesus saved me from sin and Hell, both living and eternal through his obedient death on a Roman cross.

It was for me. By his stripes I am healed. By his blood I am redeemed. By his Spirit, I’m made clean.

Who am I to question that? I’ve only every asked God ‘why?’ once. I’ll don’t believe I’ll do it again.

I know for many its not that clear cut…but here is an invitation…and its an invitation to simple faith and trust: believe Him today.

A Different Approach…

Lets try and approach this question in a different way. Its clear that I’m conservatively evangelical in theology and much of emergent stuff is not…that my main problem. We could discuss that til the cows come home. (Interestingly, I’ve heard that emergents are generous to everyone about everything except conservative Christans and their theology) :o)

Here is another question I’d like to invite as many people as want to to respond to:


What is it about emergent church that means that it needs to re-write classical evangelical theology? Why can it not emerge with classical theology?

Answers on a postcard (or hey, save paper and use the comments function!)

I guess we will either sum up that there is not reason as to why it can’t, or it will hang itself in the processs….but..lets see!