RIP John Richardson, The Ugley Vicar

I am sorry to see that it is nearly a year since I last posted here. I never intended to stop blogging, and I might yet start again regularly. Meanwhile Gentle Wisdom is still getting over 100 visits most days. The issue is that life has been busy for me here in Virginia, as the manager of a growing business and an active member of a lively church. At least by posting occasionally I can reassure anyone still following this blog that I am alive and well.

John RichardsonSadly I cannot say the same about my fellow blogger John Richardson, who blogged as The Ugley Vicar and elsewhere. This morning I heard the sad news that, after a short illness, he has passed away and gone to be with his Lord.

John was in fact the only other regular blogger who I also met, more than rather briefly, during the time we were blogging. For a time we both served on the committee of the Chelmsford Diocesan Evangelical Association. We had several other things in common: not only were we members of the Church of England in the same diocese, but we also started blogging as single men in our 50s, and we both got married for the first time as bloggers (but not to bloggers!) and continued to blog as married men.

There were of course many issues which we disagreed on, and enjoyed sparring about. He would probably remember me best as the person who repeatedly advised him to leave the Church of England – in each case because he would not accept a decision of the church leadership. Ironically, he remained within that church while I left it. But then for him the Church of England was a body he was ordained into and deeply committed to, even when he disagreed with its leadership, whereas for me it was little more than the denomination I happened to be in at the time.

Nevertheless on what mattered John and I were united: on the heart of the gospel, and on the pressing need to see that message presented clearly to the people of England and of the whole world. He will be sadly missed.

Sorry!

Sorry for some strange problems on this blog this evening. The blog is not appearing correctly, at least intermittently, and commenting is failing on at least some posts. It looks like a problem in WordPress or at my ISP. No time to investigate further now, so I will have to leave it now until the morning.

New blog: God and Politics in the UK

Gillan ScottI would like to recommend Gillan Scott’s new blog God and Politics in the UK, subtitled “Seeking God’s agenda for society in the United Kingdom”. He has made a good start over the last few weeks with his comments and analysis of recent political events from a non-partisan Christian perspective. He writes:

Jesus … didn’t shy away from the issues of the day and he definitely wasn’t afraid to speak his mind highlighting hypocrisy, abuse of power and oppression.

Can the same be said of the church today? … At this time in our history it is crucial that the Church stands up and delivers God’s message even when it is counter cultural and likely to cause offence.

And this seems to be what Gillan is aiming to do. I wish him well.

I have not met Gillan, but he lives only about 50 miles from me in Suffolk, and moves in the same charismatic Church of England circles as I do.

Back to the USA

Peter and Lorenza KirkMy wife Lorenza and I are taking a trip to the USA for the next three weeks. We will be based in the Shenandoah Valley of northern Virginia, where we expect to spend Thanksgiving with our good friends. We will then be sorting out some business matters – and also hope to have some time to see the area. We leave tomorrow morning, 22nd November, and should be home on 14th December.

I hope to be able to finish off the series Cross or Resurrection. But otherwise I don’t know yet if I will have time for blogging while we are away.

We will be sad to miss Tim and Marci Chesterton, whose own transatlantic trip coincides with ours. But we look forward to making new friends and business contacts, as well as to seeing and celebrating with our old friends.

Peter Enns Unpacks Theological Belligerence

Peter EnnsIn a post Fear Leads to Anger: Unpacking Theological Belligerence Peter Enns brilliantly explores the roots of why many Christians are so quick to attack their brothers and sisters in Christ over doctrinal differences, which on further investigation often turn out to be illusory or trivial. He writes:

When I see someone who:

seeks theological conflict with fellow Christians,

or is quick to turn the temperature up at the slightest provocation,

or presumes to be right at every turn and has has an excessive need to display it,

I know I am dealing with a deeply fearful person.

Sadly there are far too many fearful people like this on the blogosphere.

And not only there, as Enns knows personally. In 2008 he was effectively fired from Westminster Theological Seminary because of the controversy over his book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. He has also recently ceased to be a Senior Fellow with the Biologos Foundation (confirmed by his own edit of his Wikipedia biography on 19th September 2011, although curiously he is still listed as a Senior Fellow at the Biologos website), and one blogger has reported his departure as follows:

What both Enns and Karl Giberson (also recently departed) had in common was their repudiation of the physical existence of Adam and Eve—something that angered the evangelicals, who desperately want to save that story to ensure that Jesus didn’t die for a mere metaphor.  I would guess that both Enns and Giberson were shown the door because of this issue …

Well, that may be pure speculation, but if anything like true it would suggest that more deeply fearful people have turned on Enns.

So all credit to Peter Enns that he has not responded in anger or even in self-justification against the people who have had him fired, at least once and perhaps twice.

Not a Christian blogger, a blogger who’s a Christian

Kurt Willems writes I’m not a Christian blogger, I’m a blogger who’s a Christian. I would say the same, and echo Kurt’s reasons for saying it.

I’m not a Christian blogger, I’m a blogger who’s a ChristianMost of my posts on this blog include some kind of explicitly Christian material, about the Bible, Christian teaching or my own beliefs. My last few posts, for no particular reason, have not done so. My primary purpose in blogging is not to promote the Christian faith, although I am happy to do so – and my series Follow Jesus does have this purpose. I blog mainly to express and discuss what is important to me, and a lot of that does concern my faith.

Meanwhile I am working, or at least thinking of working, on more explicitly Christian posts. So watch this space.

Announcing Gentle Wisdom International

The Earth seen from Apollo 17Gentle Wisdom has gone international! The .uk suffix has been dropped from its URL, which is now simply gentlewisdom.org, with an optional www. prefix. The old URL and old links to individual posts should still work, with redirection to the new locations. But I would recommend updating links in blogrolls etc.

The blog is now also hosted “internationally”. I bought an “unlimited” hosting plan with a US-based hosting company, justhost.com*, which includes the new domain name. That is one reason for the change.

It also makes sense for Gentle Wisdom to have a more international identity as currently less than 20% of visits here are from the UK, and nearly 60% are from the USA. But this will continue to be a British based blog, written in British English (but a few Americanisms might slip in) and offering a British perspective even when commenting on other countries’ affairs.

I hope that yesterday’s work in progress is now complete. If you notice any problems, please let me know by a comment here or through the contact form.

* This is an affiliate link. So if you are looking for hosting, please click on it, or here, or on the sidebar ad, and I will receive a commission when you sign up.

Work in progress

Work in progressI am working on some upgrades to this blog including a move to a new server. This means that for the next day or two it may, at least intermittently, be unavailable or closed to comments. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Watch this space for announcements about the changes when they are complete.

Apologies for broken links

Broken linkI would like to apologise to my readers for some broken links from one post to another on this blog in the last few days. The problem is with links from before I set up the separate Gentle Wisdom domain in 2009. Old links of the form http://www.qaya.org/blog/?p=nn are not working. They can be made to work by changing the link to http://www.gentlewisdom.org.uk/?p=nn.

This is, I hope, a temporary problem. It has come about because I moved the domain registration for qaya.org to the same company which hosts my blog and manages the registration for gentlewisdom.org.uk.

For those interested in the technicalities, the old registrar had no problem redirecting qaya.org/blog/ to gentlewisdom.org.uk/qaya/blog/, which then redirects to gentlewisdom.org.uk/. The new registrar claims that this cannot be done, and that I cannot even redirect all traffic for qaya.org to qaya.gentlewisdom.org.uk (which redirects as wanted), without purchasing a separate hosting package for qaya.org. This is despite their clear advertising domains to be registered as aliases for other domains. For the moment I am not naming and shaming the hosting company in the hope that they find a solution. At the same time I am working on my own independent solution.

Meanwhile blogging here is slow as my wife and I are in the process of moving home, for the moment back to Chelmsford, Essex, where we were living last year.

Not Driscoll's Jesus, nor Jim West's, but the Bible's

Jim WestJim West offers a rather double-edged endorsement of Gentle Wisdom, to which I replied in a comment, which he has not (yet?) approved, starting with these words:

Thanks for the wonderful endorsement! But don’t make it too obvious that you are trying to revitalise a fading blog by getting link love from a rising star.

Jim writes about me:

He’s a bit too fluffy for me. I imagine his image of Jesus is something of a Jesus who carries a bunny, and a flower, and never says a cross word to anyone.

Well, Jim certainly has an active imagination. I have no idea where he gets this image from. True, I rejected what might be Mark Driscoll’s Jesus, because this is not at all the biblical picture. But on exactly the same basis I reject any image of “a Jesus who carries a bunny, and a flower, and never says a cross word to anyone”, because this clearly contradicts the biblical picture of our Saviour. As Jim correctly states as he continues,

the actual Jesus we know from the Gospels … called people hypocrites, was quite unfriendly to Temple businessmen, and regularly mocked the religious leaders of his day.

Indeed I could have used Jesus’ example to defend calling Driscoll a bully: Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees much worse things. This confrontational aspect of Jesus has been important to my faith since the 1970s, when I read John Stott’s book Christ the Controversialist, which helped me to see the inadequacy of the image from my childhood of Jesus who “never says a cross word to anyone”.

Mark Driscoll is right to regret that

increasingly, the least likely person to be found in church is a twenty-or-thirty-something single male.

Among the reasons for this may well be that the image of Jesus which Jim attributes to me is so widespread. So Driscoll is right to try to present a different image. But the image he should be presenting is not of someone who might advise: “ridicule those who disagree with you, despise people of other orientations, denigrate women, and above all be arrogant and rude!” Instead he should find and preach the true Jesus as presented in the gospels.