Posted by George Crowder, 19 Apr 2021
George Crowder examines the issue of self-identity and finds the answer in Christ.
What is the true self? Is the ‘real me’ the mostly secret thought-life of my consciousness; the person no-one ever really sees? Or is the ‘real me’ the person I am in the eyes of others; the person I may well not be aware that I really am? Is the ‘real me’ the set of aspirations I have for myself; the person I really want to be? Or is the ‘real me’ a result of my social background and genetic make-up; the person I really can’t help being?
This is an important question because an emphasis on self-identity undergirds many current social campaigns, political exchanges, academic debates and cultural projects. By dint of this, it is notable how quickly almost any issue can become personal (a point Carl Trueman makes in his recent book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self). This dynamic finds a parallel in the Bible, where every point of doctrine has an individual life-application, and every story forms part of our shared faith-narrative.
Thus, it is particularly pertinent to consider what scripture has to say about the identity of the self: the self that is drawn into the story of salvation, the self that is steered by the teaching of the gospel.
In the New Testament, Paul the apostle speaks about two selves – the old self and the new self.
Photo by Photo by Elina Krima from Pexels
Podcast Review: The End of the Christian Life
Posted by Ros Clarke, 16 Apr 2021
Ros Clarke reviews this podcast about terminal illness, death and bereavement.
“In my late thirties I was diagnosed with incurable cancer. It will kill me, if nothing else does first.”
Todd Billings, author of “The End of the Christian Life” and host of the podcast of the same name, speaks with all the authority of experience about suffering, death, mourning and hope. In each episode Todd speaks with someone who has a different perspective on this subject including scholars, pastors, funeral directors, and those who suffer themselves with incurable illness. The podcast carefully unpacks some of the false promises that churches explicitly or implicitly teach, and the ways we could all be better prepared to face the end of our lives.
For me, 2020 was marked by grief and loss as friends and family members died one after another and I was privileged to witness extraordinary faith as they faced the end of this life with confident hope for the next. This podcast was recommended to me by a friend who has been in palliative care for several months. She knows more than most of us about facing the realities of death head on.
The podcast has much to offer pastors for counselling Christians and their loved ones through terminal illness, death and bereavement, as well as to inform their regular preaching. For thoughtful believers struggling with their own suffering, it may also be appropriate, though I would be cautious about recommending it to those in the emotional maelstrom of recent diagnosis or in the immediate aftermath of bereavement.
Church Society Webinar: Turnaround or Revitalisation Ministry
Posted 15 Apr 2021
Church Society are holding a webinar for ministers in turnaround or revitalisation parishes in London, the South East and East Anglia.
Are you a Bible-centred, orthodox minister of a Church of England parish… who’s leading a church not used to a Bible-centred ministry…?
Today, many enthusiastic and gifted evangelicals are being appointed to parishes that have little or no experience of a Bible-centred ministry, or at least not for some while. Such parishes are often referred to as ‘Revitalisation’ or ‘Turnaround’ parishes. This is an exciting and in many ways immensely challenging option - just in case you haven’t noticed!
But it can feel lonely and isolated. Meetings and conferences with your Evangelical peers can seem very remote to your current experience. Your questions, worries, issues and fears are often very different to theirs. Where can you go to find some long-term experience of the issues and opportunities, the highs and the lows? And godly wisdom as you grapple with them? Where can you meet, and build friendships with, others doing what you’re doing in London, the South East and East Anglia?
Answer. The Church Society ‘Turnaround’ Minister’s Webinar!
Tuesday 22nd June, 10am - 1pm on Zoom. Book now!