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  • Going Deeper - with David Livingstone

    Week 2 question starters...

    Going Deeper with David Livingstone – Some Questions to Ponder or Discuss


    My Own Story

    David Livingstone’s story shows that he had a questioning approach to faith, seeking to reconcile it with his interest in science and, later in the light of his African experience to reflect on his views on salvation

    • Thinking about my own life and faith, what questions have I asked? Have I struggled to integrate my faith with other aspects of my life? 
    • Have I had any experiences that have caused me to re-think my faith or theology? How did that feel?
    • Is there one question that is occupying me right now, or maybe that ought to be?

    What is Success?

    David had aspirations as an evangelist, an abolitionist and as an explorer.  It could be argued that he was unsuccessful in all of these, gaining only one (recorded) convert, failing to find the source of the River Nile, and slavery got worse before it got better.  However, he viewed all he did as part of a much bigger, eternal, perspective of God’s Kingdom.

    • How do I measure success? Is that helpful or healthy? 
    • What are the advantages or disadvantages of viewing our endeavours in the larger context of God’s eternal promises?
    • Livingstone’s achievements in exploring Africa were enormous, if not what he had imagined. Are there healthier, life-giving ways of viewing our own endeavours?


    It seems there are two main theological questions that arise from David Livingstone’s story, and they are both complex and challenging for our own discipleship.

    • Who can be ‘saved’, how does that occur, and how does that affect our views on mission and evangelism?
    • Livingstone understood his salvation not as a ‘ticket to heaven’ but as a call to action to alleviate human misery. He wasn’t (just) ‘saved from’ but he was ‘saved for’ a reason.  What practical/political/values difference does it make for me to be a follower of Jesus?

    Clay Feet

    The apostle Peter is our scriptural example of a man whose life was a blend of the admirable and unworthy.  David Livingstone was no saint, and his journals show he regretted not being a better husband/father.  Even Jesus, it might be argued, failed (from a human perspective) by getting himself executed. 

    • How does this affect the way I view myself or others?
    • What one thing will I take away from today, to encourage me in the days ahead?
  • Going Deeper - with Mary Slessor

    Two weeks in to our summer series, and I'm fiding loads of interesting things to ponder.  Each week, I've offered some 'going deeper' questions and invited people either to take them away, if they so wish, or to use them as conversation starters rather than listenign to my thoughts.  For good reason - such as I haven't really pushed the idea, the papers haven't been that visible - the uptake has been minimal, no-one's 'fault' but mine.  Anyway, having gone to the effort of preparing them, I've decided to share them here, in case anyone finds them interesting or useful!!

    Going Deeper with Mary Slessor – Some Questions to Ponder or Discuss


    My Own Story

    Mary Slessor was, as are we all, a child of her time, influenced by the context in which she grew up and the significant events in her life, for good and ill.  Her concern for the well-being of her mother, her strong views on the dangers of alcohol, her passion for justice and opposition to superstitious practices are examples of this.  Her early racism (she thought white people were superior to blacks) is a negative example.

    • Thinking about my own life, what factors have shaped my attitudes and values? What prejudices might I have absorbed? 
    • What is one thing that matters to me because of my experiences?
    • What is one aspect of my character or values that I am less proud of?

    Life and Death

    Mary encountered practices that shocked her, from the killing of twin babies, to ritual trials where people were forced to drink poison, to murder as a means of settling disputes.

    Throughout history, and to this day, killing (or abandoning to die) babies has been practised.  In contemporary scientific, western culture, decisions are made to terminate viable pregnancies that pose no risk to the mother because the foetus is the ‘wrong’ gender or is believed to have certain genetic conditions.

    • Almost everyone we know would agree it is wrong to kill or abandon babies because of their gender or (dis)ability, but what about genetic screening or even so-called ‘designer’ babies?
    • How do my own views affect my attitudes to others?
    • How to I handle the tension of such complex matters – how does my faith inform this?

    Non-violent Protest and Subversion

    Mary would physically place herself between powerful leaders and their intended victims, blocking the way, and pleading with them for alternatives that would meet their requirements without losing face.

    Shifrah and Puah subverted Pharaoh taking advantage of his ignorance and arrogance.

    Saffiya chose to smile at an aggressive racist who had invaded her personal space

    • Have I ever employed subversion or non-violent actions as a response to an issue?
    • How might I react differently in tense or conflict situations to be a person of peace?

    Cracked Vessels

    All the women we ‘met’ today were (or are) flawed, with their own strengths and weaknesses, yet from each of them we can learn something that is valuable for our own discipleship of Jesus. 

    • What one thing will I take away from today, to encourage me in the days ahead?