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  • "Rightly Dividing" - or dangerous twaddle?

    We never got the talk on 'rightly handling the word of truth' as the speaker felt led to concentrate on other aspects of what he had prepared.  This is a shame, because I'd like to have known how he understood this term given some of what he said.  It all started so well, affirming the need for ongoing study and reflection on the part of preachers - but only so long as they read the right stuff, it seems.  After denouncing liberalism and feminism as 'dangerous' he pronounced vegetarianism as demonic based on his reading of 1 Timothy 4:1 - 3.  You need a KJV to be able to reach this conclusion - although I reckon you could argue that it is actually unmarried vegetarians who would demon-inspired.

    What utter twaddle!  The Greek word means (in contemporary parlance) 'foodstuffs' - which the KJV translates as 'meat' because 'meat' meant food in those days.  What saddens me almost as much as this dangerous mishandling of scripture is that the same speaker was happy to throw in Greek words willy nilly when they suited his purposes.  Given that elsewhere in the Bible, we are called to respect other people's views on what they can and cannot eat (e.g. Paul on food offered to idols) and that many have argued that the pre-fall people were vegetarian, taking one English translation of one verse as a basis for denouncing a whole group of people seems contrary to his (correct) statement that we need to see the bigger picture of scripture.

    It is really easy to criticise someone else, and I know I have been as guilty as any of dodgey exegesis and partial (in every sense) preaching.  I just hope I have the commonsense not to make pronouncements that are so easily knocked down.

    The speaker obviously had a deep love of the letters to Timothy - something I share (perhaps surprisingly as a female of the species!); I just wish some of the encouragements that Paul gives to young preachers/ministers/evangelists could have been drawn out to balance the warnings.

  • The Parable of the Manse Bathroom

    A couple of weeks ago the loo at Dibley manse began to leak - not a pleasant experience, but after four days we finally got a plumber who fixed it.  The carpet (who in their right mind puts carpet in bathrooms?) was not exactly pleasant by this time, so the good people agreed to pay for it to be replaced with vinyl, and that I could redecorate the room (which was last done for my predecessor's predecessor).  The ceiling in said room was papered and in several places the paper was hanging down rather unattractively.  Before I opted to rip it off (which took under 2 minutes) I checked with the person who last decorated the room why he had papered it - evidently to hide some staining where the damp "used" to come in; the ceiling itself was, he assured me, sound.  Well, sound in so far as it didn't cave in on top of me, but it looks like a map of a drought parched river, with great cracks and an uneven surface, to say nothing of patches of copydex, superglue and goodness knows what where someone had tried to stick the paper back up.  The corner where the 'damp used to come in' was palpably wet...  Another call to the property team, I'll be so popular, I don't think!

    But isn't it a parable of church life?  Or even personal discipleship?  The 'papering over the cracks' metaphor is widely used in many walks of life, and I guess Jesus' comment about whitewashed tombs is, in some ways, broadly similar.  I also wonder how much patching up we do with the wrong kind of glue, how much we cover up stains without dealing with what causes them, how easily our carefully constructed facades could be ripped down?

    I have the paint etc all lined up to refresh this room, but first it needs the rot to be addressed.  All this takes time and is costly.  The quick fix is simply to re-paper the ceiling, and leave the problem for someone else to discover, something I concede may be the option we go for - I wonder how often we fall into the same trap in dicipleship and mission?  Building on sand or rock?

    Tomorrow's plans to do some painting have now gone out of the window, but hopefully in the longer term it will prove worth the wait...

  • Eddie Askew RIP

    At our minister's conference we were told the news that Eddie Askew had died in hospital in Nottingham (one of our number is a hospital chaplain there).  His role in The Leprosy Mission and his paintings and meditations were recalled, then we prayed for his family.

    The good people of Dibley, like many other Baptist churches, have faithfully supported TLM for many years, and will be saddened by this news.

    Well done, good and faithful servant; rest in peace.