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Freeing The Faith

Freeing The Faith

I regret I never had the privilege of meeting Revd Hugh Dawes but he inadvertently had a profound impact on my Christian journey.

It was over thirty years ago when I was exploring the possibility of offering for the ordained ministry in the Methodist Church. Wesley College, in Bristol, (now closed) was holding a residential weekend for people such as myself, so I went along. It was while I was there that someone suggested that I read ‘Freeing the Faith’, by Revd Hugh Dawes, which back then was hot off the press.

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Progressive reflections on the lectionary #1

Progressive reflections on the lectionary #1

Mark 1: 21-28

The story is full of action, and full of symbolism - sometimes the fast paced text obscures the symbolic nature of the activity. In the synagogue at Capernaum Jesus runs up against one of the key groups who oppose the early Jesus movement, the so called ‘Scribes’. These are the people who copied out the books of the law, and are probably the same people referred to elsewhere as ‘legal experts’ or ‘teachers of the law’.

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Synodality

Synodality

Bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in a sermon before his election as Pope, quoting Rev. 3:20 and the image of Jesus standing at the door and knocking, said this: “Today Jesus knocks from the other side, from inside the Church – he wants to go out and we must follow him. He wants to go first of all to all the marginalised, to those on the margins of society and the Church, to the poor, the exploited. He goes where people are hurting. The Church is to be a field hospital where wounds – physical, social, psychological, and spiritual – are dressed and healed.”

Such a statement would be fairly well received by most of us. It’s in line with the sort of notion we have about how the Church should express itself in the modern world. But to read or hear that from a Roman Catholic bishop might be just a little surprising.

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PCN Britain's 20th Anniversary Events

PCN Britain's 20th Anniversary Events

Adrian Alker, founder member of PCN Britain and former Chair, invites you to celebrate our 20th Anniversary.

To friends across the PCN network

Throughout our lives we remember those happy times when we celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, they counterbalance the sad and difficult occasions when we mourn the loss of friends or family. At my stage of life the celebrations can vary from a grandson’s fifth birthday to a friend’s golden wedding.

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Calculate the cost of deterrence

Calculate the cost of deterrence

Is there a better, less addictive way to encourage ethical behaviour, asks Peter Selby in the Church Times

The anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, on 6 and 9 August respectively, come during a European war. That coincidence raises with particular force the issue of the declared deterrent purpose of nuclear weapons. As a way into reflecting on that issue, it is helpful to consider rather more mundane examples of just how dominant a feature of our common life we have allowed deterrence to become.

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Why Should Christianity Change?

Don MacGregor reflects on his journey and considers what positive changes could be made.

I started on a Christian path in 1983, in what I then thought of as a conversion experience, but now would call an awakening to love. I was involved with a large charismatic evangelical church in Leicester, with some lovely people, and I remember the first service I went to there, on Easter Sunday 1983. There was a lot of standing up and sitting down, reciting strange words and singing hymns, and it all struck me as rather weird. I hadn’t been to church since I was nine, and then it was a dour, Presbyterian place that seemed very joyless. But it wasn’t all the strange liturgy and singing that struck me, it was the conversations after and the love shown to us by the people. I suppose this cynical world these days would call it being ‘love-bombed’ but for me it was a real heart-warming experience and made me return there week in week out. Later that year came the real outpouring of love upon me that I call my true awakening.

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Honesty

Honesty

Veteran author and evangelical stalwart Adrian Plass was in confessional mood when I interviewed him for the most recent edition of Progressive Voices. “Finally, at this stage in my life, I’m able to tell the truth about what I believe, and what I don’t believe in, and how I feel about God and, and all the other stuff...” He confided. Adding, “I told a lot of lies when I was younger…”

In preparation for the interview I had read his latest book, ‘Still Crazy’ in which the writer seems torn between a full embrace of the uncertainty that he leans towards, and the strength of the pull back to the dogmas of his tradition. The tension is more or less obvious throughout the book, and is, I reflect, a fairly realistic representation of the mental landscape of many who, like him, have stayed faithful to their evangelicalism despites the betrayals it has afforded them.

Plass seems to have these in mind too.

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Together in Love and Faith

Together in Love and Faith

Chair of PCN Britain, Simon Cross reflects on the Bishop of Oxford's support for same-sex marriage.

The recent publication of Together in Love and Faith in which the Bishop of Oxford outlines his support of same-sex marriages should surely be welcomed by those of us in the progressive movement.

In the writing of this essay Dr Croft exhibits a prayerful, scholarly and pastorally sensitive approach to the needs of the church which is laudable.

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Bishop Richard Wood: Theology of Disinvestment Part 2

Theology of Disinvestment is from a talk which was probably delivered in Hull in the 1970's. It has been split into two parts, this is part two.

In general, it seems true to say that the use of money represents an unredeemed area of Wester society at least. Disinvestment queries very basic assumptions inherent in our society. It is not possible only to clobber 'those nasty capitalists'. At a Trades Union meeting in London a discussion on 'apartheid' was immediately followed by a motion to press for higher wages without any attempt to relate this to the immense differential between our own and black standards of living in South Africa. When challenged the Secretary said, 'We are here to do the best for our members' and the best is more money.

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Bishop Richard Wood: Theology of Disinvestment Part 1

Theology of Disinvestment is from a talk which was probably delivered in Hull in the 1970's. It has been split into two parts, this is part one.

Abraham set off from Ur of the Chaldees following his star to the promised land. (Genesis 12) It was a profitable journey. Along the road Abraham was richly blessed. His flocks and servants were seen as signs of God's approval and God's gifts to a faithful servant. Avoiding the corruption of the cities (and that's an interesting thought with our present urban drift) Abraham watched the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah from afar. Only Lot's wife was a casualty in the flight. Over the ensuing centuries prosperity was a cherished goal. It was not always attained, wealth was as unevenly distributed then as now; but by dint of hard work, sleeping rough and rising early and with a degree of cunning, (Jacob, for example,) made it to become the father of Israel in a patriarchal society.

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Bishop Richard Wood: Deported

This is the Save newsletter from 1975, an Emergency Issue that reported the news that Bishop Wood had been deported.

Bishop richard, elected suffragan bishop in Damaraland after the expulsion of bishop colin winter in 1972, has been served with a deportation order. His wife Cathy and Rolf Friede of the Christian centre in Windhoek were later served with similar orders, and the bishop’s home was raided by security police.

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Bishop Richard Wood: Politics and Theology

25/2/77 A minister giving political speeches instead of sermons. A politician making statements of Christian principle instead of a clear political programme. Both become something of a public spectacle. But the Church and its Christian members live in the world and are expected to have their ‘religion’ and political responsibility.

Corporate personal faith and political interest…. Can they be combined? Should they?

A Christian is in the world but, like Jesus, not of the world. We have to live as if we were both.

Must we then occupy ourselves only with devotional exercises? Ditch our technological society?

Or would this make religion so unacceptable that we must drop it completely?

Either would be an attempt to escape from what life is.

It is prayer and it is action. Personal and social. Religious and it is political.

The Christian in the world lives in this tension. The relation of the Church to the State has always been one of tension, clearly so since the crucifixion of Jesus.

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Bishop Richard Wood: What is Truth?

Do you remember how at the confrontation between Pilate and Jesus, the religious leaders were hackling in the background? Pilate was so confused that he did not recognize he was in the presence of truth. The truth was Jesus himself; all he’d done and taught for three years. No one reported this to Pilate, and who believes a prisoner without witnesses? Pilate heard bad news. The truth was good news.

We have as great a difficulty as Pilate in recognizing the truth. We’re be-devilled by self-interests, prejudices, culture gaps and just plain ignorance. Inevitably we rely on the media to portray the news faithfully, so that we have the facts which will enable us to make a judgement. In the United Kingdom, overseas news is hard to come by; perhaps it is too seldom sought after. The popular daily papers and radio programs tell us almost nothing. The most pervasive medium today is television, strongly controlled by the government and the truth is being manipulated. That’s bad news.

But what of our own system and what of the television and media in many countries? What is the truth they portray about Rhodesia, Namibia and South Africa?

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Communion

I concluded a research project recently, part of which involved me listening to people who are involved in community action of one sort or another. Some support refugees, others work with the homeless, some run community football or youth clubs, and one simply goes walking with people. They are all working to make the world a better place to live in.

Again and again I found people willing to give things up for the sake of other folk – in some cases money, in some cases ‘peace of mind’ and for lots of people ‘time’, or ‘only time!’ as one person put it. “Only time!? You know that means a literal piece of your life?” I wanted to ask, but didn’t.

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The Writings of Bishop Richard Wood

I have the great privilege of having in my possession a large quantity of material which is in the form of documents, some typed, some handwritten from Bishop Richard Wood. Richard was a close friend and Bishop of Namibia during the 1970's. Sadly he died about 10 years ago. These papers came into my hands by the kind permission of his widow Cathy Wood. I hope to publish this fascinating material on Cornflakes Theology group in the coming months so I first introduce Bishop Richard to you now.

Richard Wood stands high, with Michael Scott and Colin Winter, among those on the roll of Anglican churchmen who stood up against South African white racial supremacy.

Like Scott and Winter, Wood was expelled from Namibia for his active opposition to the Afrikaner Nationalist regime's harshly maintained illegal occupation of its former mandated territory of South West Africa. The Undesirable Persons Removal proclamation of 1920, dating back to the League of Nations days, was used to bring Wood's campaigning to an end in 1975, only to have him, like Winter, continue it from abroad.

Wood had come to South Africa 20 years earlier with his Afrikaner wife whom he had met in London in 1946. After Oldham Hulme Grammar School, Wood undertook electrical engineering training at Regent Street Polytechnic, followed by war service with the RAF. He and his wife then moved to Sri Lanka where he inspected electrical installations on tea plantations.

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