the Grace Outpouring by Roy Godwin Becoming a People of Blessing
This book has been one of the most popular of recent times so when I was prompted, I thought it was time I got round to it.
It's the story of Ffalder-y-Brenin (fal-duh-brenin), a retreat house in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and how Roy Godwin and his wife Daphne became the managers and the extraordinary experiences visitors have there.
The first chapters describe how God overcame their resistance to becoming Christian Retreat managers ( or rather Roy's ); is quite extensive and reasonably so, as it reveals how God gets his way in the life of a Christian leader who thinks he's on top of God's will for his life.
It then describes how God showed Roy that Ffalder-y-Brenin was to become a house of prayer, with the emphasis on blessing visitors and those living nearby, in the local village. The accounts of how God manifest himself to visitors, even quite sceptical ones are quite startling as people experience the presence of God, even as they enter the grounds, or visit the chapel; and then there's the cross on the hill!
Godwin goes on to talk about Houses of Prayer and how to set one up. This new edition concludes with a study guide.
An easy, encouraging and rewarding read, that's worth giving to non Christians as it demonstrates the reality of God.
Weakness is the Way - J.I. Packer
In 1973, J.I. Packer published a book called 'Knowing God' and its still in print and popular. It's the most influential book I've read. In 2013, Packer published 'Weakness is the Way' - Life with Christ our Strength. Inspired by 2 Corinthians, it has three parts.
Part one, 'Christ the Christians Calling', where he speaks of how Paul, in weakness, re-establishes his relationship with the Corinthians and expresses how this enables him to take strength from Christ in his ministry. Packer develops these thoughts in his teaching.
Part Two, 'Christ and the Christians Giving' deals with principles and attitudes, rather than percentages. It is thorough and helpful.
Part Three, 'Christ and the Christians Hoping' expands in strength in weakness and what is truly meant by 'comfort' in the 2 Corinthians sense. Packer contrasts the 'treasure' Gods servants have and the 'jars of clay' they have it in.
Wins – Rob Bell
his book, 'Love Wins', Rob Bell has been accused of 'universalism',
the idea that all people will be saved from the wrath of God, that
none will be damned to hell.
the book, you get the impression that RB likes to have his cake and
eat it; he suggests that people will continue to have opportunity to
repent and turn to God, even after death; that ultimately, no one
will be able to resist the love of God.
6 is typical of how RB uses words and language.
chapter one, RB challenges traditional forms of Christian conversion
and implys that all Christians regard this as the end of the
matter. He says
Christians believe and often repeat that all that matters is whether
or not a person is going to heaven. Is that the message? Is that what
life is all about? Going somewhere else? If that’s the gospel, the
good news – if what Jesus does is get people somewhere else –
then the central message of the Christian faith has little to do with
this life, other than getting you what you need for the next one.
Which of course raises the question: Is that the best God can do?
some Christians can tend to think like this; but what a
generalisation! What a misrepresentation! I'm afraid this is typical
of Bells arguments throughout the book.
leads to a far more disturbing question. So is it true that the kind
of person you are doesn't ultimately matter, as long as you've said
or prayed or believed the right things?
goes on at length to describe a theology of believers who don't care
about the world or the people in it. This a huge distortion of the
truth. There are those who, in error; think that way but they are
what could have coursed RB to think like this?
suspect its an over-reaction to the attitudes and behaviour of many
in his own country.
are those who are dower and overly rigid in their practise and
beliefs, I have seen them in their dark suits, stern faces and empty
stands at the 'Christian Booksellers Convention'... mercifully, they
were a very small minority.
there's a tendency for believers over the pond to be rather
'prescriptive' in the way the faith should be lived out; and prone to
taking Gods judgement into their own hands!
'Here Is The New There'; Bell implys that the new earth is
this one only sanctified. This theology is promoted by Tom Wright
with his 'putting the world to rights' teaching. But even Tom would
not suggest, that this world will not pass away, to be replaced by a
new one, the clear teaching at the end of the book of Revelation.
his third chapter, RB describes 'Hell' as the existence of people who
live in terrible circumstances in this world. There is no doubt that many do exist in a living 'hell' to the utter shame of the rest of
us, but that is quite different from 'hell' being another place.
Teachers should be very careful before diverting from orthodox
the chapter that really drove me up the wall, was Ch 4
God Get What He Wants'!
bases his ideas in this chapter on 1 Timothy ch 2
wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”
is where he expresses the idea that even after death, God will
continue to reveal himself to those who have not accepted him, until
they give in. He says that to see it any other way would mean that
God does not get what he wants!!!!
this is dangerous teaching. Oh that it were true but we can't have
God on our own terms. Its such a radical idea that if he were wrong,
the consequences for all involved could be dire! James ch 3 warns
that 'teachers will be judged more strictly'.
teaching is based on Peters remarks in the forth chapter of his first
letter where in verse 6 he talks about Jesus going to preach to the
dead. This is a well known to be an obscure passage, surely it is
dangerous to build a major theology on it.
Rob Bell says that there would be no point in evangelism if God knew
those that were being saved and those that were not.
on earth does he think this teaching implies!!!! What is the point of
evangelising if everyone will eventually be drawn into Gods Kingdom!
next chapter makes much more satisfying reading. In 'Dying To
Live' he talks about the gospel in very real terms, though he does
avoid the matter of Christ taking the wrath of God, the matter that
got Steve Chalk into trouble.
'The Good News Is Better Than That' RB gives some really
helpful insights into the parable of the prodigal son, especially
where the older brother is concerned. His insights into his deeply
ingrained attitudes are really helpful, as are his suggestion that
these attitudes are prevalent in Christian workers, I think he might
be right about that.
difficulty is, that RB is explicit about nothing, and this is my
biggest problem with Rob Bell's teaching and that of the 'emergent'
leaders. Teachers are called to lay and build, on a firm foundation
but what one is left with is a vague impression of a God who loves
with minimal consequences of rejection.
final chapter of 'Love Wins' is warm and compelling. He describes
his prayer of commitment as a child with his parents either side, and
expresses all that that means to him, then and now. But he goes on to
describe Jesus's parables of warning; the man who buried his
treasure; the foolish virgins; sheep and the goats; the tenants in
the vineyard and the wheat and the weeds as' missing out on rewards,
celebrations and opportunities. This is as far as 'judgement appears
to go in Rob Bell's theology but surely Jesus intended us to accept a
more dire warning than that!
Bell is a gifted word-smith, a master of his craft. Its just a pity
that he uses his observations of the weaknesses of evangelicalism to
produce something contentious; and selective in its use of