One Hundred and Forty Years in Cape Town

An adventure in the world’s most beautiful city.[i]
In November 1875 three individuals met for prayer in Long Street, Cape Town. They wanted to start a church.

CH Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher
CH Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher

After getting some advice they wrote to CH Spurgeon in London, who had begun a Pastor’s training college, and asked if he could send someone to lead the church-planting initiative. Spurgeon responded warmly and selected William Hamilton.

Hamilton was clearly a leader amongst his peers and committed to evangelism. It was said of him, a ‘harmony between Calvinistic theology, evangelical activism, and Christian piety was a characteristic feature of Mr Hamilton’s ministry.’

On the basis of this faith-filled request from just three Christians, Hamilton got organised and set sail from London.

The first Baptist Union leaders in South Africa
The first Baptist Union leaders in South Africa

The first Baptists had arrived in 1820 and had begun congregations in Grahamstown and other places. William Hamilton’s arrival represented a possible breakthrough in Cape Town itself.

The man for Cape Town, William Hamilton
The man for Cape Town, William Hamilton

Three months at sea
After a three-month voyage, he arrived in Cape Town in November 1876 (a full year after Spurgeon received the letter of request). It’s difficult to imagine what a three-month journey by ship must have been like. But, considering missionary travels in the 19th century, we ought probably to be a little more gracious at the occasional forty-minute delay before our 12 hour flights to Europe.

Hamilton held a meeting on the 12th November in the Temperance Hall, Long Street which gathered 60 curious people.

Long Street, Cape town, c.1860
Long Street, Cape town, c.1860

The church was constituted on the 19th November 1876 when just nine people agreed to become members by signing this covenant statement:

‘We do hold that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be our only rule of faith and guidance. The Scriptures teach the doctrines of the Trinity, man’s fall, redemption by the substitution of the Son of God, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit; the final judgement of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; the eternal reward of the righteous and eternal punishment of the wicked. While God, in His sovereign mercy, can call whom he will, the world is invited to embrace the Gospel.
The Church of Christ, as set forth in the New Testament, is composed of those who trust alone to Christ for salvation, profess His name before the world, and obey the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
We shall endeavour to the utmost of our ability to further the cause of God among us by fervent prayer, diligent attendance on the means of grace, pecuniary assistance in support of the Ministry, and by trying to get others to attend the house of God.’

Sunday Services
Soon the church grew and Hamilton was formally appointed as Pastor.
Regular prayer meetings were held in a ‘portrait saloon’ in Caledon St, and Sunday services were started in the Oddfellows’ Hall in Plein Street.

Plein Street, Cape Town, c.1870
Plein Street, Cape Town, c.1870

Fruitfulness in evangelism
Hamilton’s evangelistic zeal bore much fruit in Cape Town. Twenty-six conversions were reported as having taken place at one evening meeting.

After a few years the church had grown to such an extent that they were able to build their first church facility. The site they chose was in Wale Street. The construction of the building took a while but was finally completed in 1882. I had discovered this building before relocating to Cape Town in my copy of Spurgeon’s The Sword and the Trowel.

Like Spurgeon's sermons, the Sword and the Trowel was bound into annual volumes
Like Spurgeon’s sermons, the Sword and the Trowel was bound into annual volumes

Here is Spurgeon’s announcement of the completion of the Wale Street building:

Wale Street Baptist Church, an engraving printed in Spurgeon's the Sword and the Trowel
Wale Street Baptist Church, an engraving printed in Spurgeon’s the Sword and the Trowel

The text, written by Spurgeon, reads: ‘Most of our readers must be familiar with the story of Mr. Hamilton’s work in Cape Town; for our pages have often contained notices of his self-denying and arduous labours. Leaving the Pastors’ College in 1876, he accepted an invitation from a small company of baptized believers, who desired to form a church upon what they considered the principles of the New Testament. For some years, in various halls and with varying success, the work was prosecuted with great vigour; and at last on March 9th, 1882, the pastor had the inexpressible delight of preaching in the new chapel, of which an engraving is given above.’

Wale Street, Cape Town, c.1880. Hamilton's building is clearly visible on the left.
Wale Street, Cape Town, c.1880. Hamilton’s building is clearly visible on the left.
The Wale Street church building by local artist Desmond Martin
The Wale Street church building by local artist Desmond Martin

Spurgeon later said of Hamilton, ‘He has accomplished marvels, and has often made our heart to sing for joy.’ [ii]
It was also said of him, ‘He was quite something new in the religious world of the Cape. He was unconventional both in dress and manner, and of boundless zeal and energy. He got quickly to work, and found quite a number of people interested in his mission.’ [iii]

Wale Street before and after...
Wale Street before and after…

Hamilton not only preached in the city centre but also in the suburbs.

As I searched in the National Archives, at the National Library and online, not only did I discover Hamilton’s amazing story, but also that it was his preaching that led to formation of Wynberg Baptist Church. That was of particular interest because in 1983 a number of idealistic young people from Wynberg Baptist Church launched out and began what was to become Jubilee Community Church.

So, in a very real sense – in a manner where you can trace a direct connection – the roots of both Jubilee Community Church and Cape Town Baptist Church go back to the pioneer evangelist William Hamilton.

More growth
The congregation outgrew the Wale Street building and, in the middle of the last century, moved to a site that stretches between Kloof and Orange Street where they enjoyed decades of fruitful ministry until falling somewhat into decline. The pastor and congregation reached out to the leadership of Jubilee to see if we could join hands and enter a new season of revitalisation and growth. Amazingly, the collaboration has worked and has become a story of unity, peace and strength which we trust will benefit the city.

Re-united
The continuity of our history, the strength of two churches coming, as it were, back together; of 140 years of faithful prayer and evangelism, should give us an awareness of the faithfulness of God, and a momentum that is from God. The strong encouragements we have received from former members of the two Baptist congregations that met on this site have been overwhelming. The present congregation feels as though we are being carried by generations of prayers, of faith, of giving, of longing.
We are not merely having a go at something in the city-centre. God is at work!

Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town
Jubilee Community Church, Kloof Street, Cape Town

 

This is a new beginning. We are trusting God to enable us to renovate the larger auditorium space and grow beyond our current 180-200 or so up to a significant size that will be a blessing to the city and a testimony to God’s grace.

Spurgeon wrote to Hamilton several times. As far as we know, no letter of has been preserved. But I found a line from one of Spurgeon’s letters which simply said, ‘My heart is thoroughly with your work.’

But this is not a story about dead heroes. Paul reminds us that one plants, another waters, but it is God who gives the growth. And it’s God who has preserved this city-centre space for the preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, on the 19th November – the 140th anniversary – we give thanks, because we’re not only part of a current expression of the church in Cape Town, we’re also joining with one hundred and forty years of history in our city, and we’re joyfully aligning ourselves with the faithfulness of a gracious God.

©2016 Lex Loizides / Church History Review

[i] https://www.goodthingsguy.com/environment/cape-town/
http://www.southafrica.net/blog/en/posts/entry/Cape-Town-voted-the-Worlds-best-city-here-are-22-reasons-why
[
ii] Sword and Trowel vol. 1885
[iii] http://zalookup.com/library/books/TheHistoryOfTheBaptistChurchIinSouthAfrica.pdf

Small Town Jesus in the Big City

Kloof St

I’m about to move my office out of a suburb of Cape Town into the city centre. It’s an exciting time. We’re launching a congregation of Jubilee Community Church in the heart of Cape Town and we’re ready to go!

There has been, in recent years, a much-needed focus on cities. Christians have been moving steadily away from the city centres and into the suburbs, often leaving the city without a strong witness.

Yet, we’re told, that the creative culture-making heartbeat (the heart that sends its influence to the rest of our culture) is right back in the place the believers left. If we reach the cities (so the argument goes) there will be a ‘trickle down’ effect that will effect the rest of society.

Donnie Griggs, Lead Pastor at One Harbor Church, Morehead City, NC
Donnie Griggs, Lead Pastor at One Harbor Church, Morehead City, NC

Small Town Jesus by Donnie Griggs is a robust response. Griggs, who pastors a large church in Morehead City, North Carolina (a town of about nine thousand) raises a banner for the myriad of small towns that may, therefore, seem less significant.

While not denying the importance of cities, he makes a plea for the importance of mission to smaller towns. He speaks from his own experience of being known and getting to know the folk in Morehead, while seeking to build a church that cares for its community and is engaged in a wider mission.

Now, why would I spend time reading a book devoted to mission in small towns when I am about to relocate my work space into the heart of the world’s most beautiful city (I could easily support that assertion with sources, but it’s just a fact).

And – I’ll go further – why am I recommending this book to you, whatever size town you’re in, but especially if you live in a city?

Cape Town City Hall
Cape Town City Hall

Being a Good Local
Simply for this reason: that I have realised, both as I’ve been traveling into the city regularly over the last year, and as I’ve read Donnie’s book, that, in my section of the city centre, I need to become a local.

That’s not something we tend to think of in our cities. We have the dubious luxury of being anonymous much of the time. We expect speed. We expect quality. If something’s not good we complain. And we complain properly. We’ll put a bad review online. We’re helping raise standards by complaining. Griggs has a technical term for this that’s worth remembering. It is called ‘being a jerk’. Hmm. Maybe it’s time to change.

Here are a few pointers Griggs gives for being a good local in a small town. I want to encourage you to take these on board in your locality especially if you’re in the city centre. And feel free to add your own thoughts and comments below. Let’s learn from each other.

Your reputation matters in a small town
Things are really close in a village or town. Yet, in the city, you can also develop a different kind of reputation by deliberately seeking to serve those around your work space. Be different from those who rush by. Do good in the city. Be honest. Build a good reputation by being consistently compassionate.

Learn to Enjoy Small Talk
In the city, people are often in a rush. But people are also incredibly lonely. Slow down and look around. You’ll see lots of people who are alone and who would benefit from your friendship. Cape Town is not a European city. It is an African city with a lot of Europe in it. People are very open to making connections. There’s a warmth that you sometimes don’t feel in a European city. Griggs writes, that ‘always acting like you have somewhere better to be will eventually lead to unnecessarily offending’ people. That’s good for your city too, even if the rush is tolerated.

Shop Local as much as possible
He writes, ‘I would encourage you to see shopping local as an opportunity to become a good local.’ Whether it’s caterers, lunchtime appointments in the city, printing, or just where you regularly purchase coffee or church refreshments, I want the businesses in my section of Cape Town to know we’re part of the neighbourhood. We’re buying local and eating local because we are local. Griggs talks a lot about loving local food and then there’s a whole section about soft-shell crabs. Normally you’d expect an editor’s intervention but these guys in Morehead City love their soft-shell crabs.

Donnie Griggs out on the boat
Donnie Griggs out on the boat

Don’t be a Jerk
(It’s worth mentioning again) He prefaces this section helpfully by noting, ‘I’m not saying that everyone who lives in a big city is a jerk.’ Followed by the word, ‘But…’ and then so helpfully corrects how, even we as Christians, can act in an unnecessarily discourteous way when dealing with folks in a city.

But, ‘in a small town, you should take every opportunity to be kind and courteous.’

There’s a danger in city life because we probably won’t see a person again, and can therefore treat them with less respect than they deserve, especially if they’re serving us poorly. In a small town our bad responses will get known very quickly. But that behaviour is no less acceptable in the city. And will also be known. You reap what you sow. As in the town and suburb, so in the city, a Christian’s rudeness can have a deadening effect on mission.

Be a Blessing
I am taking this on board for our city site: ‘When considering how you can engage the culture of your small town with the gospel, please don’t just settle for contextualized church programs and church facilities. Love where you live and serve where you live. Let everyone know that you really care about them, whether they come to your church or not.’

Donnie has written a highly readable book with a great and simple message: be a blessing to your town. Be deliberate and consistent.

I want to add that, if you’re in the city, see your section of the city, whether you work there each day, or whether you live there, as your own locality, your own small town within the city, and act accordingly.

Small Town Jesus is available on Amazon here

Jubilee Community Church’s City Congregation will begin meeting on Sundays from 25th September, 10.30am, 33 Kloof Street, Cape Town

For a 30-Day Prayer Guide to pray for the launch of the site click here

©2016 Lex Loizides / Church History Review

 

Writing Your Own Story

Not for Nutters
Evangelistic leaflets (what used to be called ‘tracts’) have seriously fallen out of favour over the last thirty or forty years. For many Christians the very word ‘tract’ conjures up images of nutters on street corners shouting at passers-by or holding up boards which warn of Coming Doom! Those attracting attention by doing such things presumably also press little explanatory leaflets into the palm of any hapless shopper who shows the tiniest glimmer of interest. Later the tracts will be collected by street cleaners.

Well OK. But I am enthusiastic about tracts not because I fit that personality type. What I’m suggesting is a different type of tract – it’s a personal one. Something written by you. And the kind of encounter in which you would offer someone your own personal tract is not impersonal or forced but friendly.

Brief Encounters
I’m speaking about those brief moments where you meet someone – a complete stranger – and a few words might be exchanged, perhaps of thanks, and off you go into the rest of your day: you purchase something at a store; you pay for your meal at a restaurant; you speak with a teller at the bank.

I concede that these moments of friendly encounter don’t strike every follower of Christ as a potential opportunity to share the gospel. In fact an attempt to merely speak about your faith then and there would usually feel awkward.

We meet several of these strangers every day. They are usually serving us and yet don’t feel the need to serve them. Why?

An Opportunity for Light to Break in
A young woman in our church in Missouri asked Jo and I to pray for her. She was genuinely distraught. She told us that she works in MacDonald’s and that it was wearing her down. She felt that customers had no respect for her, they were rude and impatient. Added to that, they were hungry and irritable and if she made any mistakes they were utterly unforgiving. Customer after customer, hour after hour, day after day. It was soul-destroying. Obviously we prayed for her, but I thought to myself, what a difference Christians could make! Instead of moaning about how slowly they were being served they could serve the person with a smile and a simple word of encouragement. What a difference that might make to a discouraged person’s day. And then if they were able to add to that encouragement by giving the person their own story of how God’s grace has impacted their lives they certainly would be ‘making the most of every opportunity’ (Eph 5.16).

Personal Tracts
Lex’s Personal Tract

That’s what personal tracts are about. They’re not for your work colleagues or those who are already your friends. They’re for those chance encounters, where your willingness to serve might be the only moment of light breaking into someone’s darkness.

Check out this amusing 18 minute video to find out how you can write and produce your own.
And please feel free to leave a comment on your own adventures.

©2015 Lex Loizides

 

 

George Bizos – the Refugee who helped build South Africa

Xenophobic violence in South Africa (pic. from Rand Daily Mail)
Xenophobic violence in South Africa (pic. from Rand Daily Mail)

With further news of attacks on foreigners, and increasing numbers of foreigners being displaced in South Africa, I am reposting this article/review in the hopes that it will stir us to protect those who are South Africa’s guests. News reports today said that around 360 Malawians are stranded in South Africa having lost their homes and possessions including their passports. Thousands of foreigners are presently in transit camps.

George Bizos' stunning autobiography, 'Odyssey to Freedom'
George Bizos’ autobiography, ‘Odyssey to Freedom’

George Bizos’ story is one of courage and tolerance and teaches us to value South Africa’s guests. He arrived as a refugee and went on to become Nelson Mandela’s famous lawyer; a true nation-builder.

Click here for the story

©2015 Lex Loizides / Church History Review

 

Take a Closer Look at the Claims of Christ

 

Take a Closer Look at the Claims of Christ. New on Kindle!
Take a Closer Look at the Claims of Christ. New on Kindle!

Take a Closer Look is an easy to use resource to help explain who Jesus is, why He came and how someone can begin following Him.

Included are many faith-inspiring verses from the Gospel of John, helpful questions, and a chapter which seeks to help the person envision what life may look like for them were they to become a follower of Christ.

It’s designed to be used one-on-one but is ideal for individual use.
Many have come to a lasting faith in Jesus through this study.

‘Take a Closer Look’ http://amzn.to/1ufMzys (US store)
‘Take a Closer Look’ http://amzn.to/1yzbjlk (UK store)

Dirk Jongkind
Dirk Jongkind

‘When John wrote his book about Jesus more than 1900 years ago, he wanted people to understand who this Jesus really was and why he deserves our trust and commitment. Lex Loizides takes the modern reader by the hand with exactly the same purpose as John had and explains who Jesus is using the words that John wrote down so long ago. If you want to know about Jesus then ‘Take a Closer Look’ is an excellent guide – it is faithful to the original sources.’
Dr. Dirk Jongkind, Research Fellow in New Testament Text and Language, St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge

Terry Virgo
Terry Virgo

‘When your curiosity is aroused and the light seems to be beckoning you out of darkness, how superb to have an outstanding aid like this which can, as it were, take you by the hand and lead you to the truth you’re beginning to long for.’
Terry Virgo, Founder of Newfrontiers

‘Take a Closer Look’ introduces you to Jesus. Reading the book is like meeting him for the first time. We hear him speak and our pre-conceived ideas are quickly adjusted to the real Jesus.
Gert Hijkoop, Pastor, Wijnstokgemeente, Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands

Ian Galloway
Ian Galloway

Speaking as a busy pastor I totally recommend ‘Take a Closer Look’. I really enjoying doing them. I just love sitting down with people and seeing them start to engage personally with Jesus. The simplicity of the study, the focus on Jesus, and the ease with which it can be arranged make it a brilliant resource. Everyone should use this!
Ian Galloway, Pastor, City Church, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Samir Deokuliar
Samir Deokuliar

‘Take a Closer Look’ is a clear and crisp description of why one should consider Jesus. I have used this book (in Hindi) over the years to facilitate discussions in small groups. The claims and questions posed in the book are thought provoking and have helped healthy discussions. Highly recommended.
Samir Deokuliar, TV Presenter and Pastor, Dwaar, Delhi, India

Stephen van Rhyn
Stephen van Rhyn

I have found ‘Take a Closer Look’ to be a fantastic tool for introducing seekers to Christ and helping them cross the line of faith and follow Him. If you are looking for a relevant, Biblical and accessible study on Christ for seekers look no further.
Steve van Rhyn, Advance Network of Churches, Pastor, Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town, South Africa

Take a closer look is a great resource, that we have used in our church for a number of years, with success. It is particularly useful when you have an individual who is unclear on their faith, and you feel that what they need is a one-to-one short course over coffee. It is non-threatening, focusing on the gospel of John, and very accessible for young and old.
Matthew Clifton-Brown, Pastor, Kings Church Edinburgh, Scotland

One of the most important months of my life was going through ‘Take a Closer Look’ in the early 1990s. I knew nothing about Christianity, so understanding the basics was vital to making an informed decision. 20 years later I still have very fond memories of that life-defining time! I’d recommend ‘Take A Closer Look’ to anyone that wants to make their own choice about whether to accept Jesus’ claims.
Martin Cooper, Worship Leader, Songwriter, Teacher, British & Irish Modern Music Institute, UK

As a non-believing teenager unsure of what to make of Christianity, ‘Take a Closer Look’ (which I couldn’t put down and read in one sitting) gave me what I needed to make an informed decision. It is a clear explanation of what Jesus said about himself and his work, and what this means for our individual lives. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand what Jesus taught.
Vincent van Bever Donker, Oxford English Centre, Oxford 

I have used these lessons for people from different religious, educational and social backgrounds for over 15 years and found it very effective to lead them to Jesus Christ. I have found it a great one-on-one tool for a person interested in knowing Jesus. We have used it as a wonderful tool to help people open up as they seek to become Christians.
Joy-Anne Philip, Cochi, Kerala, India

Scriptural, practical, fruitful and flexible way of sharing Jesus with 1-10+ people at a time. Many lives have been transformed by this helpful tool.
Mike Sprenger, Evangelist, UK

‘Take a Closer Look’ is an excellent tool from the heart of an evangelist which will be a help and a blessing to all those who have a heart for the unsaved. Simple but profound.
Don Smith, veteran church planter, UK

‘Take a Closer Look’ is a helpful resource that helps me walk someone from objections to the faith to coming to faith in Christ.  It is short, accessible and yet proclaims the truth about Jesus powerfully. I trust that this new digital version will help equip believers to reach out to many more of their friends.
Gareth Bowley, Pastor, Oasis Church, Amazimtoti, South Africa

©2015 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

Oxford Professor John Lennox in South Africa

This page includes 8 AUDIO LINKS AND 5 VIDEOS 

After a hugely successful first trip to Cape Town and Gauteng last year, Professor John Lennox returned in Sept 2014.

Professor John Lennox's Cape Town schedule
Professor John Lennox’s Cape Town schedule

 

Accompanied by his brother, Gilbert, John arrived to a beautiful day in Cape Town, lunching at the famous Kirstenbosch Gardens.

John Lennox Kirstenbosch

 

Both John and his brother are keen photographers and thoroughly enjoyed the amazing beauty of Cape Town.

John also enjoyed Cape Town hospitality at the Steenburg Estate in the evening.

Dinner with Hugo, Karen, Lex and Jo
Dinner with Hugo, Karen, Lex and Jo

 

Prof John Lennox at the University of Cape Town

John gave two lunchtime lectures to a packed lecture theatre on the subject ‘Is God a Delusion?’

Here’s the first lecture: ‘Is God a Delusion, Part One (UCT)’

 

'Is God a Delusion?' with John Lennox at UCT
‘Is God a Delusion?’ with John Lennox at UCT
The students were genuinely enjoying Prof Lennox's wit
The students were genuinely enjoying Prof Lennox’s wit

 

Continuing to explain outside the lecture theatre...
Continuing to explain outside the lecture theatre…

The crowds increased for the second lecture, so that I was totally unable to get pictures from a different angle!

Even before the lecture began it was obvious that this was a main event for UCT that day.
Even before the lecture began it was obvious that this was a main event for UCT that day.

 

More students streamed in, completely filling the stairs, standing at the back an sitting over the edges!
More students streamed in, completely filling the stairs, standing at the back and even sitting over the edges!

Here’s the second lecture: ‘Is God a Delusion, part two (UCT)’

 

Combined Jubilee/Common Ground ‘OneLife’ event

[AUDIO links below]

Well over 1000 people arrived to hear Prof Lennox at an event called ‘OneLife’ which is an event that seeks to help Christian engage their Christianity with their working life, breaking down a sacred/secular divide.

In the plenary session, John was given the title, ‘Thinking Christians in a Changing World’ (although he suggested he’d like to change it to ‘Changing Christians in a Thinking World’!).

Over 1000 people crammed into the Jubilee Centre to hear Prof Lennox
Over 1000 people crammed into the Jubilee Centre to hear Prof Lennox
John Lennox on 'Thinking Christians in a Changing World'
John Lennox on ‘Thinking Christians in a Changing World’

CLICK HERE to listen (or download) ‘Thinking Christians in a Changing World’

It was difficult to see how we could get more people in!
It was difficult to see how we could get more people in!

The audio/video will be available soon -  check back later

Prof Lennox also spoke to medical professionals on the challenge of bioethics
Prof Lennox also spoke to medical professionals on the challenge of bioethics

CLICK HERE to listen to (or download) ‘Bioethics: Challenges in the 21st Century’

 

Prof. Lennox at the Diocesan College (Bishops) in Rondebosch

As to with each of the meetings in which Prof Lennox spoke, there was both laughter and serious thinking on the part of the audience. After a gracious introduction by the new Headmaster Prof Lennox challenged the boys to be intellectually rigourous and follow where the evidence leads.

John arriving at Bishops
John arriving at Bishops
Prof Lennox speaking to over 600 boys and staff at Bishops
Prof Lennox speaking to over 600 boys and staff at Bishops

 

Relaxing in Cape Town with Gilbert and John Lennox
Relaxing in Cape Town with Gilbert and John Lennox

Following an email request, radio talk show host John Maytham was very keen to have John on his afternoon show. The result was less of an interview and more a frank exchange between two opposing positions. The interview lasted for just over 22 minutes and Prof Lennox felt it was one of the best he’d ever done. In the lead up to the interview Maythem mentions that there had been ‘huge interest’.

 

John Lennox being interviewed by John Maytham at Cape Talk Radio
John Lennox being interviewed by John Maytham at Cape Talk Radio
John Maytham with Prof John Lennox
John Maytham with Prof John Lennox

Is God a Delusion? Event in Fish Hoek
This event, hosted by Murray Anderson, was a combined churches event including King of Kings Baptist, Common Ground, St Peter’s and Tokai Community Church.

For AUDIO PART 1 CLICK HERE

For AUDIO PART 2 CLICK HERE

Prof Lennox answered the most popular objections to the Christian Faith drawn from an online survey.

Prof Lennox answers common objections to the Christian Faith
Prof Lennox answers common objections to the Christian Faith
Lennox fishhoek2
Prof Lennox in Fish Hoek

 

Prof Lennox addressed business leaders in Cape Town
One of the highlights of Prof Lennox’s Cape Town visit was a sold out breakfast for some of Cape Town’s most influential business leaders.

The breakfast was organised by Accelerate Cape Town and held at Deloitte’s.
John has spoken numerous times for the Said Business School in Oxford, as well as speaking for several multi-national corporations and companies. His subject was ‘Smart Cities: Smart Ethics’, and was followed by a Q&A.

Prof Lennox speaks to a group of business people drawn together by Accelerate Cape Town
Prof Lennox speaks to a group of business people drawn together by Accelerate Cape Town
Prof Lennox addresses business leaders in Cape Town
Prof Lennox addresses business leaders in Cape Town

 

Prof Lennox at Stellenbosch University
Once again Prof Lennox addressed an eager audience at Stellenbosch University on the subject ‘Should the New South Africa Embrace the New Atheism?’

Click on the image below to  hear the AUDIO 

Lennox Stellenbosch Advert

 

Prof Lennox addresses students at Stellenbosch University
Prof Lennox addresses students at Stellenbosch University

On Saturday 13th I hosted two Q&A sessions (of one hour each) with Prof Lennox, asking questions and objections ranging from the reliability of Scripture, the challenge of Reason v. Revelation; questions regarding the Bible and the ‘Big Bang’; the age of the universe, the age of the earth, and the standard evolutionary narrative. Some of his answers were controversial, as you’ll hear. Audience members were able to interrupt via twitter (which was both fun and taxing on the interviewer). Both sessions are included on a single file (58MB), at the moment, but well worth downloading so you can listen later.

To hear AUDIO of ‘The God Question’ interview click the image below

The God Question with Prof John Lennox
The God Question with Prof John Lennox
Hundreds turned out to hear Prof John Lennox answer tough questions
Hundreds turned out to hear Prof John Lennox answer tough questions
Lennox, with characteristic good humour, relished the opportunity to answer objections
Lennox, with characteristic good humour, relished the opportunity to answer objections
Prof Lennox answered several questions sent in via facebook & twitter
Prof Lennox answered several questions sent in via facebook & twitter

 

John also spoke at the multi-racial Jubilee Community Church in Cape Town

'In the beginning God...'
‘In the beginning God…’

9.30am – ‘In the beginning God…’ a look at issues arising from Genesis 1

LISTEN TO THE AUDIO OF ‘IN THE BEGINNING GOD…’

Prof Lennox and UCT Prof Kelly Chibale in conversation after lunch
Prof Lennox and UCT Prof Kelly Chibale in conversation after lunch

6.30am – ‘Let us make Man in Our image…’ a look at issues arising from Genesis 2 & 3

LISTEN TO THE AUDIO OF ‘LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE…’

Prof John Lennox at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town
Prof John Lennox at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town

 

Prof Lennox at North West University, South Africa

_Foto1

Prof Lennox lecturing on God: Rendered Irrelevant? Has science buried God? to about 3500 people in the Amphitheater on the Potchefstroom campus of North West University. (15 Sept)

 

Prof Lennox at Oosterlig Church, Pretoria

Prof Lennox at Dialoog Church
Prof Lennox at Oosterlig Church

 

Prof Lennox at Moreleta Church, Pretoria

Prof Lennox at Moreleta Church, Pretoria
Prof Lennox at Moreleta Church, Pretoria

 

Debate with Eusebius McKaiser

Prof Lennox’s most widely publicised meeting in the Gauteng area was his discussion with radio talk show host Eusebius McKaiser.

PART ONE of the video is here:

PART TWO:

PART THREE:

 

RZIM SA Director Mahlatse Mashua, Prof Lennox and Eusebius McKaiser before the WITS discussion
RZIM SA Director Mahlatse Mashua, Prof Lennox and Eusebius McKaiser before the WITS discussion

 

 

© 2014 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

 

Introducing the Salvation Army

Introducing the Salvation Army

Salvation Army Fundraising
The Salvation Army fundraising for good causes

Today we see them, usually around Christmas, ringing a bell and calling for cash donations into red buckets.

In the US they’re a not-for-profit we trust. They’re doing good. Serving those in need.
In the UK they’re held in affection as a kind of mix between the St. John’s Ambulance men and a village fete brass band playing the kind of tunes we imagine were popular in the 1940s. They’re faithful, and part of us.

Kindly people all. They don’t seem to be at war.

It’s amazing how words can lose their meaning through familiarity. Because those two words Salvation and Army were a perfect description for one of the most committed and self-sacrificing forces of evangelisation in the late 19th century. And their influence continues.

In this upcoming series of posts your faith is going to be stirred, your compassion aroused and your desire to do something about poverty in your city will resolve itself, I hope, into action.

The Salvation Army Crest
The Salvation Army Crest

We’ll see:

–  how the passion of the leading Evangelist of the Methodist churches in Britain led to thousands of conversions

–  how a commitment to evangelism led to the formation of a church planting movement

–  how the power of the Holy Spirit lifted people from poverty to leadership in their communities

–  how those who were largely unreached by the established churches were gathered and mobilized for global mission

–  how unemployment, starvation and disease were tackled head-on by Christians refusing to accept the status quo

–  how the latest technologies and musical innovations were harnessed for gospel proclamation

–  how tough, unbelieving communities were reached through creative, sometimes downright crazy, attention-getting gospel initiatives

–  how persecution from both rich and poor that led to violence and even martyrdom couldn’t stop the relentless love of a genuinely missional community

–  how a movement that began among a few drunks and no-hopers who mocked the message and threw rotten eggs at the messenger spread right across the globe

This is the story of Christ amongst the poor. This is the story of mercy triumphing over judgement. This is the story of blood and fire.

This is the story of The Salvation Army.

© 2013 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

Message of the Month Don Smith

Don and Stephanie Smith
Don and Stephanie Smith

Yes I know…the word ‘legend’ is over-used. Nevertheless, some people are legendary, notorious (in the best sense), outstanding, memorable. So I will use the word legend to describe this friend, mentor and Pastor, Don Smith.

Don was not only a highly determined, servant-hearted leader, but he was also a God-sent irritant to holiness in the life of the churches he led. He didn’t just want numbers, he wanted to see Christ-centred lives. And he is still soldiering on – in so-called retirement! He is passionate, sold-out for God, refreshingly working class, blunt, often challenging, always on the ball, seeking God’s glory and the good of the church. He was a skilled shepherd and was loved by those he served both in Hastings and Eastbourne in the UK.

Don Smith was one of the early leaders in the Newfrontiers group of churches
Don Smith was one of the early leaders in the Newfrontiers group of churches

Don was born in the London borough of Lewisham in 1940 (on the Downham council estate). He worked in a mental institution for several years until in the mid-1970s he and his wife Stephanie started a church group in a basement flat in Hastings, East Sussex. After three years the church were able to support him full-time and Kings Church Hastings grew to be one of the largest in the town. In 1989 he and a very small team launched Kings Church in Eastbourne a few miles away. Both those churches are affiliated to the Newfrontiers family of churches led by Terry Virgo and both grew to over 500 in a relatively short space of time. Though he has now technically retired from local church leadership, Don is still preaching and serving churches in the UK and Canada.

A young Don Smith in the early days of the Kings Church Eastbourne plant
A young Don Smith in the early days of the Kings Church Eastbourne plant

Don’s one-liners have also become legendary, with a facebook page devoted to them, and recently a friend compiled a highly edifying 7 and a half minutes of glorious Bible-saturated exhortation. This is classic Don Smith.

I hope you enjoy it! Click on the image below.

Don Smith on Youtube
Don Smith on Youtube

© 2013 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

Beginnings – a new resource for new believers (FREE 1st Chapter)

US edition
US edition

Helping those who’ve trusted Christ to implement change in their lives

A downloadable, easy to understand, follow-up study for anyone who’s just become a Christian!

‘A brilliant resource for new believers.’ Bryan Mowrey, Pastor, Jubilee Church, St. Louis, MO

Every new believer in Jesus Christ has questions and needs guidance

– What are my responsibilities as a follower of Jesus?

– How does this affect my relationships at work and at home?

– Do I join a local church?

– What aspects of my behaviour should change?

– What kind of purpose do I have in life?

UK edition
UK edition Now ONLY £2.99

In this much-needed and helpful study, the practical ‘first steps’ of the Christian Life are covered. Each chapter includes discussion questions and suggestions for further reading.

You no longer have to wait until you can get to a Christian bookstore to find follow-up material for someone who just gave their lives to Christ. You can download this affordable book onto both your devices and get going straight away – one on one!

What Pastors are saying about ‘Beginnings’

‘If “basics” refers to the mind-blowing, essential, central truths about Christianity, then this book is about the basics. Easy-to-read. Engaging. Clear. Fun. Inspirational. The concept of ‘read and discuss’ with a mentor is powerful.’ PJ Smyth, Pastor, Godfirst Church, Johannesburg, South Africa

‘Lex Loizides is a master communicator with a passion for bringing people into solid enjoyment of God’s good news. In ‘Beginnings’ he has provided an excellent tool kit for doing just that.’ Joel Virgo, Pastor, Church of Christ the King, Brighton, England

‘Lex has provided an easy accessible, biblical and practical book which will help many new Christians take important first steps as they move forward in their new life as a Christian.’ Steve Tibbert, Pastor, Kings Church, London

‘This book makes the perfect gift for anyone who just became a Christian.’ Adrian Warnock, Blogger and author of Raised with Christ

Topics include: The importance of the Bible, the central role of the local church, prayer and the Holy Spirit, baptism in water and breaking bread, life and pressure in the workplace and home, living life with a new mission.

Lex Loizides is a Pastor based at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town and has nearly 30 years of ministerial experience. He has worked closely with local churches in many countries, helping them become more effective in evangelism. He is the author of several published hymns and is the author of the evangelistic study, ‘Take a Closer Look at the Claims of Christ’.

Click here for the first chapter FREE!

Click here to purchase from Amazon UK

Click here to purchase from Amazon US

Professor John Lennox and Michael Ramsden in Cape Town!

John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
Good News for Cape Town!
It is with great joy that we were able to host the visit to Cape Town of Professor John Lennox and Michael Ramsden.
Professor Lennox is a highly respected academic from Oxford University who has debated Richard Dawkins on three occasions and who regularly receives invitations to speak on matters of faith at leading academic institutions. Michael Ramsden is the European Director of RZIM and a much sought after speaker to business leaders as well as on university campuses.
Lex Loizides
(On behalf of Jubilee and RZIM)
To hear John on Jo’burg’s Talk Radio click here. This is a brilliant example of how to answer questions intelligently, in a confident and winsome manner.
Prof John Lennox and Michael Ramsden in Cape Town
Prof John Lennox and Michael Ramsden in Cape Town
Prof Lennox and Michael Ramsden fielded tough questions at Jubilee in Cape Town.

Tuesday 12th 

University of Cape Town Vice Chancellor’s Open Lecture
Professor John Lennox
‘A Matter of Gravity – God, the Universe and Stephen Hawking’
This event was oversubscribed.
See the VIDEO here which includes VC Max Price’s excellent introduction.
Prof John Lennox delivers the Vice Chancellor's Open Lecture at The University of Cape Town
Prof John Lennox delivers the Vice Chancellor’s Open Lecture at The University of Cape Town

Wednesday 13th

1.00pm – 1.45pm
Lunchtime: UCT Mission with John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
‘Has science buried God?’
John Lennox speaks in Observatory, Cape Town
John Lennox speaks in Observatory, Cape Town
7:30pm 
Engaging Hearts and Minds 1 – John Lennox
Followed by Q&A
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town

Thursday 14th 

1.00pm – 1.45pm
Lunchtime: UCT Mission with John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
‘Christianity and the tooth fairy!’
Prof John Lennox also spoke at one of South Africa's top high schools
Prof John Lennox also spoke at one of South Africa’s top high schools
7:30pm 
Engaging Hearts and Minds 2 – John Lennox
Followed by Q&A
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town

Friday 15th

Prof John Lennox speaks to students at the University of Stellenbosch
Prof John Lennox speaks to students at the University of Stellenbosch
John Lennox speaking at Stellenbosch University
1.00pm – 1.45pm
UCT Mission: Michael Ramsden
Michael Ramsden addresses students at the University of Cape Town
Michael Ramsden addresses students at the University of Cape Town
‘Michael in the Lions Den’ – Q&A
 For more info: Open Secret
Michael Ramsden speaks to students after his lecture at UCT
Michael Ramsden speaks to students after his lecture at UCT
Michael also spoke brilliantly at a business leader’s dinner in Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town.
John Lennox and Michael Ramsden will address business leaders in Cape Town
John Lennox and Michael Ramsden will address business leaders in Cape Town
7.30pm
Business Leader’s Dinner with John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
‘Truth and Trust in Life and Leadership’
Moyo Restaurant, Kirstenbosch Gardens
Professor John Lennox will be speaking at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town, South Africa
Professor John Lennox will be speaking at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town, South Africa, Sun March 17, 2013

Recordings of John Lennox speaking in Cape Town

John Lennox speaking in Cape Town
John Lennox speaking in Cape Town
9.30am
Jubilee Community Church
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town
8.00am & 10.00am 
114 3rd Avenue, Kenilworth
7.00pm
City Wide Celebration  – John Lennox
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town
John Lennox at the Houses of Parliament, London
John Lennox at the Houses of Parliament, London (Photo: Bible Society/Clare Kendall)
You can also listen to John Lennox addressing a Prayer Breakfast at the UK Houses of Parliament here
John Lennox
John Lennox

Prof. John Lennox

John Lennox is a highly respected Oxford University Professor with formidable academic credentials. He is Professor of Mathematics, Oxford University, Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford.
Along with a razor sharp wit, John has a sincere care for those who are genuinely troubled with questions or objections concerning the truthfulness of the Christian Faith.
He has successfully debated Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (both high profile atheists), and has spoken to large audiences at Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities. This is his first visit to Cape Town.
John will be delivering the highly acclaimed Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture at UCT for the first time this year as well as several non-academic talks which will be inspiring, and challenging.
Our non church-going friends will be intrigued to listen to, and ask questions of, one of the finest intellectual minds in the church today. All the meetings will be relevant to those who are not convinced of the truth of Christianity.
Apologist and Evangelist Michael Ramsden
Apologist and Evangelist Michael Ramsden

Michael Ramsden

Michael has been European Director of RZIM Zacharias Trust since its foundation in 1997. He is also Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and Lecturer in Christian Apologetics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.
While at Sheffield University doing research in Law and Economics, Michael taught Moral Philosophy and lectured for the International Seminar on Jurisprudence and Human Rights in Strasbourg.
He has been invited to lecture to a variety of groups including the White House staff in Washington, D.C., leaders at NATO HQ in Brussels and Members of the European Parliament.

A Short History of the Evangelistic Appeal part 1

Billy Graham’s final evangelistic meeting at the LA Coliseum, 1963. This meeting remains the largest ever attendance of the venue, at 134,254. An evangelistic appeal (or ‘altar call’) followed the sermon.

In terms of a qualified defence of the practice, I have written on this subject elsewhere. I certainly acknowledge the danger of presumption and of giving a false impression as to the nature of the spiritual work done in a person who has responded to the gospel message by ‘going forward’[1]

It is often asserted that Charles Finney is the dastardly inventor of this religious device, which has had both the staunchly Reformed and the weak-of-faith irritated by its popularity and reluctant to employ it at the end of their messages.

That Finney is the originator of this overwhelmingly popular form of response is apparently enough for some Reformed pastors to reject it outright. Tut tut.

But author Iain Murray, a friend of Dr Lloyd-Jones and a keen historian of revival, has unintentionally come to Finney’s rescue.

Revival and Results
In Revival and Revivalism, Murray discusses the dangers of emotionalism. Strange things happen in genuine revivals: people fall down, overcome with the power of the Holy Spirit.[2]

But, when such things take place, there begins a dynamic in which such outward displays of religious excitement can become indicators of success, and preachers eager to see a response to their preaching, or, worse, driven by an ambition to be known as powerful, can fall into the trap of encouraging such responses.

These elements, he argues, were fully at work during the Kentucky Camp Meetings in the early 19th Century, noting menacingly that some ‘went the full distance into delusion’[3]. Nevertheless he credits the Kentucky revival and the Second Great Awakening in America generally as ‘giving men the Bible as their guide instead of the goddess Reason whose reign had begun in France.’[4]

The old Calvinism under threat
In the context of these developments he raises the problem of Calvinism’s loosening hold on the prevailing theology of evangelicals. Although the late 18th century revivals had begun primarily amongst Calvinists, new opinions were gaining ground. The first American Methodist magazine was bullishly titled ‘The Arminian Magazine’.

The opinion of those Methodists who were vigourously engaged in the work of evangelisation was that the Calvinists had a tendency to slow things down and get in the way.

If the revival in Kentucky had given a boost to the Christian cause generally it was at the expense of the old Reformed doctrinal unity.

Here Murray charges the Methodists with being ‘overbalanced on an experience-centred Christianity, and too ready to exalt zeal above knowledge.’[5]

Mass Evangelism, Organized Campaigns, Lots of Singing, Presumption

An appeal at one of Billy Graham’s 1979 evangelistic meetings in Sydney

Thus several regrettable outcomes: ‘the Methodists…came to believe that the organization of mass meetings was a very effective part of evangelism. Emotion engendered by numbers and mass singing, repeated over several days, was conducive to securing a response. Results could thus be multiplied, even guaranteed.’

The Calvinists, by contrast, according to Murray, ‘using their Bibles rather than any knowledge of psychology, saw from the New Testament that no technique could produce conversions.’[6]

That the Methodists were then doing what Whitefield had done a generation before (organize mass meetings), and what all believers shall do one day (ie, sing songs of worship to Jesus Christ in a massive, massive crowd cf Rev 7:9-10) is of little consequence to Murray: he is setting the stage for the still irritatingly prevalent ‘altar call’.

How do you know what’s happening?
At first it was difficult to tell who was being actually converted. Should they count the ones who fell down as converted? Obviously not. Murray omits the fact that even Whitefield tended to consider the general weeping of one of the mass congregations as a good indicator, even explicitly mentioning the broken emotional responses of Bristol miners as a sign of their repentance.

The whole connection between Kentucky emotionalism and the evangelistic appeal is tenuous anyhow as no ‘altar calls’ happened there anyway.[7]

The first modern appeals
Nevertheless here it is: Murray has pinpointed what may well be the first instance of the evangelistic appeal (and it wasn’t Finney): ‘Before the end of the eighteenth century, in some congregations of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the innovation had been introduced of inviting ‘mourners’ to come to the front, metaphorically, ‘to the altar’.

‘Jesse Lee recorded in his journal for 31 October 1798: ‘At Paup’s Meeting House Mr Asbury preached on Eph 5:25, 26, 27…I exhorted, and the power of the Lord was among us…John Easter proclaimed aloud, “I have not a doubt but God will convert a soul today”. The preachers then requested all that were under conviction to come together. Several men and women came and fell upon their knees, and the preachers for some time kept singing and exhorting the mourners…two or three found peace.’’

Murray gives a further example: ‘In 1801 another Methodist in Delaware reported: ‘After prayer I called upon the persons in distress to come forward and look to the Lord to convert their souls. Numbers came forward.’’[8]

As a Christian who joyfully embraces Reformed theology I struggle to see the problem with that example.

What do you think?

More next time…

For the first part in the Charles Finney Story click here

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog


[1] NB. In the US the appeal is still referred to by the archaic sounding term ‘altar call’. The term ‘evangelistic appeal’ also has problems, of course, considering that the actual appeal is contained in the message itself.

[2] ‘The phenomenon of hearers falling prostrate during a service or crying out in anguish is nor uncommon at the outset of revivals.’ Revival and Revivalism, Iain Murray, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth 1994) p.163

[3] ibid p.170

[4] ibid p.174

[5] ibid p.183

[6] ibid p.184

[7] He says later, ‘There were no ‘altar calls’ in the early great communion services and camp meetings in the Kentucky revival but, with the impetus that high emotion imparted to the immediate and the visible, it was a short step to its introduction by the Methodists.’ P. 186 Thus he reveals the weakness of his historical argument.

[8] Ibid p.185

In the Beginning God. A powerful message by John Lennox

‘The Biblical view is, to me, more credible than atheism, since it makes far more sense of reality, since it is supported by powerful evidence, both objective and subjective.’

Professor John Lennox

An input of intelligence and energy from outside the system
‘And God said: Each step [of creation] begins with a word of God, an input of intelligence from outside the system. This is the exact opposite, obviously, of an unguided, mindless process, proceeding from the simple to the complex. The complexity of life is not self-generated: there is an input of energy from the outside.’

If you have never heard Oxford Professor John Lennox speak before, this is a superb introduction.

John is Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford.

He has debated Richard Dawkins twice. You can see the first debate here.

There’s such a pressure to keep quiet!
This message is essentially a sermon to a Christian audience in order to strengthen their resolve to stand up for God in their various walks of life.

‘Once a person’s faith in God is undermined their fundamental stabilities begins to erode. There’s such a pressure to keep quiet and keep your faith for the private sphere. You want to believe in Christ? Fine but do it privately. Don’t bring it into the public square!

Do we bring it into the public square? Science is the public thing.

And some scientists, more generous than others, like the late Stephen J Gould, say that religion is alright so long as we keep it separate from science. That sounds great until we look at the small print. And the small print says this: Science deals with reality and religion deals with everything else: fantasy like God, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.

That won’t do will it?

The pressure to be silent is increasing but Daniel and his friends withstood it then and we are called upon to withstand it now…Daniel understood the basic doctrines of the nature of God and creation as taught in Genesis.’

Enjoy the message!
Click on the photo to watch the video

Click on the photo to watch the video

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

JP Moreland – Defender of the Faith!

Introducing JP Moreland

JP Moreland

JP Moreland is one of the most refreshing defenders of the Christian position currently taking part in debates with non-Christian intellectuals.

He is himself an intellectual giant, razor sharp, humourous, passionate. In this debate on the existence of God he covers the standard Christian arguments, namely,

1. The Origins of the Universe

2. Inference from Design – The Fine Tuning of the Universe/Information in DNA

3. The Existence of Objective Moral Law

A charismatic intellectual and an intellectual charismatic!
In addition, he argues passionately for the reliability of the New Testament, and, unlike almost every other Christian apologist I’ve heard, he argues that part of the evidence that verifies the Christian position is the current reality of physical healings taking place.

He refers not only to things happening globally but also in his own home church. The impact of this on his opponent, Clancy Martin (Prof and Chair of Philosophy, University of Missouri KC), is striking.

One could argue that JP is presenting a more rounded, balanced and Biblical defence by bringing in contemporary examples of God’s power in the experience of Christians as evidence for God’s existence.

But you be the judge. Have a listen and feel free to leave a comment.

Click here for audio of JP Moreland and Clancy Martin in debate

JP is distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, California. For a full list of his extensive academic achievements click here

He is the author of many books including:

  • Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity (1987)
  • Christianity and the Nature of Science: A Philosophical Examination (1989)
  • The Life and Death Debate: Moral Issues of Our Time (with Norman Geisler, 1990)
  • Does God Exist?: The Debate Between Atheists and Theists (with Kai Nielsen, 1990)
  • The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for An Intelligent Designer (1994)
  • Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (1997)
  • Body and Soul: Human Nature and the Crisis of Ethics (with Scott Rae, 2000)
  • Naturalism: A Critical Analysis (co-editor with William Lane Craig, 2000)
  • Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (with William Lane Craig, 2003)
  • Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power (2007)
  • Consciousness and the Existence of God (2009)
  • The Recalcitrant Imago Dei (2009)
  • The God Question: An Invitation to a Life of Meaning (2009)

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

Suffering, Sickness and Healing

PJ Smyth

Message of the Month – PJ Smyth

How should Christians respond when they are suddenly struck down with an illness? In the midst of suffering, are we to run away from medicine and trust only in prayer, or should we view prayer merely as a means of psychological comfort whilst trusting only in the prognosis of the medical professionals? Or, is there a faith-filled position which embraces both prayer and scientific medicine? And what about the Devil’s role in all this, and the role of vigourous resistance?

This message is by PJ Smyth who leads GodFirst Church in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was preached at the Newfrontiers ‘Together on a Mission’ conference in England in 2011.

It’s not a message on healing as such, but rather covers the broader range of pastoral issues that arise when we face serious sickness – including the source of sickness, and how we handle our approach towards recovery.

But it’s not merely academic. PJ was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, which was successfully treated. He tells the story in the message.

In terms of an overview of the Christian approach to the challenge of sickness and healing I think it is probably the best message I have heard on the subject, and which, in my opinion, reaches the correct conclusions.

But what do you think?

For the Video click here

For the Audio click here

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

How can we be sure the four Gospels weren’t just made up?

Simon Gathercole, Dirk Jongkind and Peter J Williams in Edinburgh

(Photo by Andrew Robertson from the ‘Tapes From Scotland’ website)

We may be convinced that the New Testament documents are based on reliable sources – that we have what was originally written from an early date – but do we know that what they contain is reliable? How do we know they weren’t just made up?

Dr Peter J Williams, Warden of Tyndale House, Cambridge University, attempts to answer the question of the reliability of the Gospel record by looking closely at both non-Christian sources and detailed material within the Gospels themselves.

He draws on research which strongly suggests the implausibility of a claim that the four canonical gospels were clever fakes.

Were these stories made up at a later time or written from a different place, or do they include such a wealth of incidental information that was available only to the ‘close-up’ gospel writers, and which points to their authenticity?

Peter presents the material with wit and precision and we’re left with an extremely convincing case that the four gospels were indeed comprised of genuine eyewitness accounts. You’ll enjoy this!

NEW! UPDATED video link. Click on the image below:

Peter Williams

 

© Church History / Lex Loizides

Free Book on the Church History Blog

Michael Licona

Mike Licona - Apologist and Evangelist

Have you ever got frustrated with a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon who interrupted your day by knocking on your door?

Have you been tempted to become impatient with them and dismiss them without actually caring about helping them understand the New Testament teaching about Jesus Christ?

Well, if you have, and you want to be equipped to engage them in conversation, then this might just be the book for you.

Instead of a ‘Message of the Month’ I’m putting this superb free e book on the Church History Blog.

It’s by apologist Mike Licona and is humourously titled, ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock’!

I read it over two days and thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the first section on having conversations with Mormons, which contained material that was new to me.

Also, helpful is how to answer the often repeated claim that the Bible is unreliable.

I hope you enjoy reading it! And leave a comment if it helped you.

For more resources by Mike check here: http://www.risenjesus.com/

© 2011 Lex Loizides / Church History

London Riots 2011 – the Church’s Response

A woman jumps from her flat. Croydon, London Aug 8 2011. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/

We’ve all been appalled by the news footage of looting and theft in London and other cities in the UK.

We’ve seen cars burning, shops being broken into, buildings on fire, violence. We’ve seen who are doing these things – largely young people who clearly don’t have an internal restraint.

Groups of hundreds have been moving up and down local high streets, smashing windows and stealing whatever they can.

The Church
Obviously pastors and elders all across London will be evaluating both the measure of their impact amongst young people as well as what they could or should be doing in the future.

Many churches have worked hard to create respectful, relevant community engagement. Kings Church, Catford and Jubilee Church Enfield (both in boroughs where looting took place) are just two examples of vibrant, growing, multi-racial churches with strong youth groups. So this post is not intended to be a corrective to those churches who are making a difference. See here for a statement by Tope Koleoso, Pastor at Jubilee, Enfield.

Some may be questioning whether a concert-and-motivational-talk type of ministry is really penetrating London’s population – and whether a far more robust ministry both on Sundays and in the midst of the communities is now more obviously necessary. Time to serve.

And it seems that as the British media, and the culture generally, has pushed evangelical Christianity into a corner, and as the church has submitted to this marginal role in modern British life, something of a beast has been growing in its place – and we’re seeing something of the fruit of that in the behaviour of the young people involved in these looting sprees. Why would we expect a Christian ethic to be in place when we’ve repeatedly displaced the Christian message?

[Added later]: Former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone was interviewed on Sky News (evening, August 9th) and, comparing the mischief his contemporaries got up to as youngsters, said: ‘Something’s changed in the last thirty years. We’ve got to find out what it is, and then tackle it!’ (Sky News Live Broadcast)

No God – no authority
The logic seems to be: ‘If there’s no God, there’s no ultimate authority, there’s no real basis for any other form of authority – therefore, we can take the moment and go for it! Why not?’

So how has the church actually grappled with these issues in the past? One obvious example that comes to mind sprang up in London itself – through William and Catherine Booth and the movement of unashamed evangelism they created: The Salvation Army.

Your view of the Salvation Army today may be of something that is very tame – closer to the St John’s Ambulance volunteers than the SAS.

A Return to Unashamed Evangelism and Social Engagement
I want to suggest that church leaders and believers looking on at this problem today could do well to learn from the London-based Salvation Army of yesterday.

They were crystal clear on preaching the gospel, not just from ‘the pulpit’ but actually in the communities they were reaching, and their ranks were filled with self-sacrificing Christians who were determined to meet the needs of the disenfranchised and marginalised. Many of the early full time officers were younger than 23.

The Salvation Army Crest – Blood and Fire!

So, I hope you’ll excuse me by putting a link here to a pretty thorough overview of their early methods and successes. It is based on years of research and is a message I brought at a Newfrontiers conference in the UK, in 2010.

My hope is that as you hear what the Booths and others did, the Holy Spirit will strengthen your resolve to actually make a difference in our cities. If you want to skip past Booth’s formative years, jump in at around 20 minutes.

Here’s the message: The Salvation Army – lessons for us

Click on the image below to see a fascinating video about what led Gavin McKenna out of gang life and into helping troubled teenagers:

Youth Worker and Ex-Gang Member Gavin McKenna talks about why he left the gangs

© 2011 Lex Loizides / Church History

Message of the Month John Piper

Working for your Joy!

John Piper

The search for genuine joy in the battle of life is a search that concerns every person.

The soul’s thirst for satisfaction drives men and women, Christian and non-Christian, to try a myriad of promises – and often leaves them feeling empty, short-changed, duped.

In this compelling message, John Piper argues that the chief aim of the Christian leader is to make joy the ultimate aim of each person – by pointing them to the only ultimately satisfying source of joy: Jesus Christ.

Joy in Christ is the goal of the Christian life – Joy, Piper asserts, is not just the icing on the cake, it is the cake!!

John Piper - working for the joy of all peoples

The link below is to a video, but if you don’t have access to fast internet (as most people don’t yet), then there is a link on the page to an mp3 version of the message.

The context of this message was a 300 leaders conference in London, hosted by Newfrontiers Pastor Tope Koleoso. I hope you enjoy it.

The Message (click the link): Working for your Joy

© Church History / Lex Loizides

The God Delusion Debate

Message of the Month – The God Delusion Debate

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

In 2010 I hosted two big screen video debates between Oxford University Professors John Lennox and Richard Dawkins. Hundreds of non-churched folk as well as members of various churches attended. There was very real interest.

I had already met John Lennox in Oxford although I was, at that time, unfamiliar with his work as a speaker. Having lunched with John, and having listened to several hours of Richard Dawkins in various contexts I was beginning to feel a little guilty that I hadn’t actually read The God Delusion.

Making Money from Religion
I’m not suggesting you buy a new copy of the book. Richard Dawkins has already made a massive amount of money from religion. Rather, if you want to read it, go and benefit your local second-hand book store by purchasing it there.

This is not a review of the book. I am not going to focus on how Dawkins misses the mark because he doesn’t have a clear grasp of key issues etc. Others have said those things already. I will point you to the Lennox/Dawkins debate.

But I do want to make a few comments which I hope will be helpful:

1. An Extended Rant. I genuinely enjoyed reading The God Delusion. It’s not often that a book keeps me completely engaged from beginning to end. There are maybe two sections that I felt should have been edited down, but this is, essentially, an extended rant and it’s fun to listen!

2. Not faith-shaking. I was surprised that there are no power punches in The God Delusion. There’s nothing here that shakes the Christian faith. Perhaps I was naive, but I had expected something more formidable. There are lots of little jabs and digs – but no substantial intellectual obstacles presented. So reading the book is more like being back in the sixth-form common room arguing about Christianity with your school mates. Digs, pokes – yes, lots of them – but certainly no knock-out punch.

3. Dodgy Examples. Irritating for the discerning reader and perhaps deceptive for those who don’t spot them are the occasions where Dawkins acknowledges that the research/item/example he is giving is probably not conclusive/trustworthy yet he goes right ahead and uses it anyway. He does this a lot. In one case he even gives a footnote saying ‘It is unclear whether the story is true’ but still uses it as a ‘typical’ example of how Christians behave. It’s all carefully worded so he escapes the charge of deliberately deceiving but my guess is that many readers gloss over the ‘this may be unverified research but…’ qualifier and get straight to the example he then uses.

4. ‘Raised Consciousness’ a delusion? Also slightly alarming, or comical, depending on your mood, are Dawkins’ suggestions that those who accept Darwinian evolution, and particularly biologists, have had their consciousness ‘raised’. And that some, particularly those poor physicists who concede that the fine tuning of the universe might suggest some ‘intelligence’, have yet to have their consciousness raised! In fact, this is his response to those who are sceptical of the so-called multiverse theory: ‘People who think that have not had their consciousness raised by natural selection.’ (p.175) Cheeky banana!

5. Shot by Both Sides. Those Christians attempting to syncretise evolutionary theory with Genesis, and hoping it might win them some intellectual credibility with non-believers will be disappointed by the response of this famous non-believer. They are given no respect whatsoever by Darwin’s most loyal devotee. He apparently does not believe your consciousness has been raised far enough and understandably (from his perspective) suggests that the literal death of Jesus for a symbolic sin by an allegorical, non-historical Adam is ‘barking mad’.

So, you can see how this is an entertaining book.

The God Delusion Debate between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox

The message I am recommending in connection with the book is The God Delusion Debate between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins, filmed by The Fixed Point Foundation.

It’s over 2 hours long but it is superb, and a great resource for churches to use to generate civil discussion around some of these issues. John Lennox is brilliant.

Fixed Point also have several other filmed debates on sale. Amazingly, they have provided this full-length video free of charge!

Here’s the link: The God Delusion Debate

I also enclose a few quotes from book reviews of The God Delusion, for your entertainment

TGD review snippets

‘This big, colourful book is mostly tendentious tosh.’ – The Independent, UK
‘Despite his pious promise not to attack soft targets, that is precisely what he does, at some length.’ – The Independent, UK

The London Review of Books review was entitled ‘Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching’ and begins by saying, ‘Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.’

Dawkins ‘can scarcely bring himself to concede that a single human benefit has flowed from religious faith, a view which is as a priori improbable as it is empirically false.’

Antony Flew, the British philosopher and former atheist wrote,

‘What is much more remarkable than that economic achievement [from The God Delusion sales] is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot.’

In referring to Dawkins’ references to Einstein, Flew writes, ‘(I find it hard to write with restraint about this obscurantist refusal on the part of Dawkins) he makes no mention of Einstein’s most relevant report: namely, that the integrated complexity of the world of physics has led him to believe that there must be a Divine Intelligence behind it.’

‘This whole business makes all too clear that Dawkins is not interested in the truth as such but is primarily concerned to discredit an ideological opponent by any available means.’

Click here for the complete transcript of Flew’s response, and which includes a rebuttal to Dawkins disgraceful claim that certain Universities are not ‘proper universities’ conferring ‘real degrees’.

© 2011 Church History / Lex Loizides

Message of the Month – William Lane Craig

William Lane Craig at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town

It was a genuine privilege for us, as a local church, to host William Lane Craig as he debated with a local Muslim apologist in Cape Town in 2010.

It was a pleasure to meet him and his wife as well as to see such a large gathering of Muslims in a Christian place of worship (about 500 of the 1000 or so that were present that night).

It has been equally instructive to hear him on other issues as well as to read some of his excellent materials.

In this ‘Message of the Month’ (delivered at the European Leadership Forum in Hungary), though, I am hearing a heart-cry – almost a prophetic call.

This is an impassioned plea for rigourous academic engagement to help create credibility for Christian perspectives in both the University and ultimately in the wider culture.

While some of us may be unable to (or are not called to) take up his challenge, I hope that by posting the message here, God may call some of you to take seriously (very seriously) Craig’s prophetic summons!

Click here for the message

© 2011 Church History / Lex Loizides

Message of the Month Tom Woodward and David Berlinski

Tom Woodward

Tom Woodward is President of the CS Lewis Society in Florida, USA, and is Research Professor of Theology at Trinity College.

Tom hosts a radio show called ‘Darwin or Design’ and interviews scientists and apologists who are involved in a growing trend amongst academics to openly criticise the Darwinian theory of evolution (macro-evolution).

David Berlinski

David Berlisnki is one of the coolest Academics you’ll encounter. He resists the idea that science speaks with a uniform voice on the issue and is outspoken in his criticism of Darwinism. He decries ‘the glaring inadequacy of so much that passes as scientific discourse today.’ He appeared, relaxed and authoritative, in the movie ‘Expelled – No Intelligence Allowed’.

Berlinski is an academic philosopher, author and is an agnostic, not a Christian.

Dawkins on Berlinski

Even though Berlinski rejects the Darwinian theory of macro evolution, Richard Dawkins did him the honour of acknowledging that ‘David Berlinski…is certainly not ignorant, stupid or insane.  He denies that he is a creationist, but claims strong scientific arguments against evolution.’

I enjoyed this interview, especially as Tom Woodward tries to get evangelistic with Berlisnki and Berlinski just waves the moment aside: ‘I cannot give my assent to those doctrines. It’s a flat out point of scepticism.’

That certainly strengthens the assertion that not all Intelligent Design Theorists are Christians, or Creationists etc.

This is a fascinating interview which should at the very least make us think.

Go to the interview in itunes (Click on Track 8:David Berlinski): Tom Woodward and David Berlinski

For more on David Berlinski click here

For Tom’s Radio Show click here

For an article by Tom Woodward in Christianity Today click here

Enjoy!

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

THE POETS’ QUESTION

The Poets' Question in Oxford - with John Carson and Lex Loizides

The Poets’ Question is an enjoyable presentation of superb poetry and spiritual inquiry and a great event for friends who love literature.

It debuted in Cape Town, South Africa in 2010, was first presented in the UK at Queen’s College, Oxford and then in Norwich. The next performance will be in Birmingham, England on Wednesday 16th November. Enquire here for details.

British actor John Carson reads selections from WB Yeats, TS Eliot, Stevie Smith, Robert Frost, John Crowe Ransom and Dylan Thomas.

Lex Loizides invites us to consider some of the most popular modern poems, and examines the relationship between the poets’ expressions of longing and the possibility of spiritual truth. The presentation is a fine blend of literary insight and Lex’s own personal journey towards authentic and intellectually satisfying spirituality, and represents a contribution to literary apologetics.

For photos, information and to read what people are saying about The Poets’ Question click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Message of the Month Vishal Mangalwadi

Message of the Month – Vishal Mangalwadi

Vishal Mangalwadi

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve had a kind of love affair with India for most of my adult life.

Nevertheless my admiration for Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi is anything but sentimental. I am genuinely impacted every time I hear him speak. It’s the same kind of impact I felt when I first read the works of Francis Schaeffer.

Somewhat guided by his notes (!), but also peppered with stunning digressions and off-the-cuff insights, his teaching energises me every single time.

Vishal's book about the role of the Bible in creating the West

He is currently working on a book about the central influence of the Bible in the development of the Western World, which, coming from an Eastern perspective, is intriguing.

This message is part of his material for that book. To be honest, I could have chosen any one of these messages but I thought the title alone might grab your interest.

The Message – Vishal Mangalwadi: ‘Why are some so rich while other are so poor?’

For more on Vishal Mangalwadi click here

Vishal’s stunning book ‘India – the Grand Experiment’

Other books for sale by Vishal

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Message of the Month Lee Strobel

Lee Strobel

I have enjoyed hearing messages by Lee Strobel for many years now. His blend of journalistic enquiry and evangelistic awareness make him one of the better communicators of the gospel in our generation.

In recent years Lee has become something of an apologist. He humbly presents himself as an investigator and then presents the evidence he’s found.

This message serves as a basic introduction to the argument that science points toward, rather than away from, the God of the Bible, and is drawn from his book The Case for a Creator.

He is humourous, well informed, and is able to make information that is sometimes difficult to grasp easy to understand. That’s a real gift – both to those attempting to learn and to those attempting to teach.

Enjoy!

The message is 40 minutes long followed by 30 minutes of Q&A.

It was delivered at Cherry Hills Community Church in Colorado, USA

Click here to listen

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Audio Message of the Month Dirk Jongkind

Dirk Jongkind, New Testament textual critic

If you’ve never heard anything about the background work that’s being done on the New Testament manuscripts, or on the reliability of the NT,  or on discoveries of ‘new’ old NT fragments then listen to this!

When I first heard this interview I was moved with gratitude to God! I don’t think I am an over-emotional person but I was moved and inspired by the following:

  • Dirk is now one of the world’s leading authorities on the New Testament manuscripts, and he describes his personal journey into textual criticism which came from a common and genuine concern: is the NT reliable?
  • I was impressed by the blend of curiosity and clarity, of pursuit and precision, in Dirk’s analysis of the material that ultimately led him to confidence in the trustworthiness of the New Testament
  • I was grateful to God that the process of scholarship behind the compilation of the New Testament manuscripts, is governed by such a high level of integrity. We’re not trying to hide or cover up anything. The integrity of the academic discipline behind the New Testament commends itself to the conscience, and caused me to give thanks to God!

OK, so enough with the emotive introduction. I trust you will enjoy this interview with Dirk Jongkind very much.

Dirk is Research Fellow in New Testament Text and Language: Fellow of St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge

Annoyingly, ‘Textual Criticism of the New Testament’ is temporarily unavailable…

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides