Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Council Estate Christians 27: Skinnyman's Worldview

I think the rapper Skinnyman did an excellent job showing a common council estate worldview in his tune "Council Estate of Mind" - check out his lyrics below:

Talkin' 'bout the science of social deprevation
From 'ere to whereever in the council estates the mans is strugglin'.
The poor lower working class.

Blud, you got to sleep round here and have nightmares,
Wake up and find the worst reality is right there.
The difference is, in my dream's I'm always runnin' scared,
But in reality, on road, I'm comin' prepared.
So now who's gonna wanna run up and become a gonner?
Everybody's gonna wanna get us, but they're on a longers.
I'm still out to get the same cats from last summer,
But man can't see them again,
It's like they've done a runner.
I'm still in the same mannor, on the same number
And everybody knows where I'm at and what I'm under,
I'm in the same slums, raisin' the funds.
In the city where the yute man are blazin' the guns.
Just look how this United Kingdom has come,
Within the council estates where man'll fight over crumbs,
We got young single parent mums,
Havin' the hardest time tryn'a survive for their daughters and their sons
Be comin' out their yutes, cause their yutes are left out there,
Raised on the ways of these streets without care.
Now we're havin' our fair share of gun warefare
And it's all gone nuts and that's just cause it's poor here.
People want more here,
We're all on the floor here,
It's raw here, can't even sleep and ignore here,
Cause life's kinda militant,
Stuck in the grime,
Nothin's equivillent to this council estate of mind.

We know that we have been living our lives through the hardest times,
Still we know that we must keep up the faith in our hearts and minds.

I live amongst smashed syringes,
Squatters' doors hangin' off the hinges,
Hookers lookin' money for Bobby, shottin' their minges.
Leavin' used condoms out on the staircases,
Next to the broken pipes that's left by the Base Heads.
Local estate heads, have grown up to hate Feds,
Kids with no helmets drivin' round on some bait peds.
Abandoned cars are at the bottom of the block,
So when it's pissin' down,
Kids have got a place to plot,
To cotch and blaze pot,
And watch this whole spot,
Full up of lost souls with no goals who get left to rot.
And what, I don't expect you to ever comprehend is
Why (Wottal?) Atkin's so self defensive.
The neighbourhood shotters have all seen what it's comin' to.
Find More lyrics at www.sweetslyrics.com
Local coppers on patrol are boppin' with a gun too.
So anyone could bun you,
Leave and desert you.
How long they gonna mourn you when somebody mercs you?
Tryin' not to get shift when shiftin' your work true
When you wanna shift there ain't nowhere to splurt to.
The stakes are high, still the best get placed.
Tryn'a find how sweet success might taste.
In a place where everybody is tryin' to flex.
Nobody's really gettin' anywhere,
So everybody's vexed,
Livin' life kinda militant,
Stuck in the grime,
Nothin's equivalent to this council estate of mind.

We know that we have been living our lives through the hardest times,
Still we know that we must keep up the faith in our hearts and minds.

So these are lyrics for my people,
Livin' on the streets who,
Know they ain't got nuttin' else to retreat to.
If you gettin' food next man'll wanna eat you,
Pure, bad beefs just to get to delete you.
So many man nowadays are so see-through,
Beware of their deceitful ways when the greet you.
Those who feel it know it because they've been through,
Times when their friends wanna switch up to beat you.
I never used to see it but,
Now I got a clear view,
Don't let no bad minded heads try get near you.
If they're not on your level they'll never hear you
Ain't no time to be shaken or fearful.
If you've been through, some of this evil that we do,
A hundred Hail Mary's ain't enough to redeem you.
All of my long time friends are crack fiends,
Who have gone too far, but still say they didn't mean too.
Does alleviation through base and crack relieve you?
Everybody's losin' their mind
And even me too.
Step into my world if you wanna catch a preview,
But don't tell a soul, cause they just won't believe you.
The life's kinda militant,
Stuck in the grime,
Nothin's equivillent to this council estate of mind.
Life's kinda militant,
Stuck in the grime,
Nothin's equivillent to this council estate of mind.

We know that we have been living our lives through the hardest times,
Still we know that we must keep up the faith in our hearts and minds.
We know that we have been living our lives through the hardest times,
Still we know that we must keep up the faith in our hearts and minds.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Council Estate Christians 26: Are posh areas any better than Council Estates?

John Calvin wrote the following a long time ago - if its too hard to understand, just skip down to my bit below!
“For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any empty semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself. And since nothing appears within us or around us that is not tainted with very great impurity, so long as we keep our mind within the confines of human pollution, anything which is in some small degree less defiled delights us as if it were most pure just as an eye, to which nothing but black had been previously presented, deems an object of a whitish, or even of a brownish hue, to be perfectly white.” Institutes book 1, chapter 1.2

When people look at posh areas they often think these places seem more righteous than Council Estates – but this thinking has problems:

1) Compared to the enormous size of God’s righteousness, the differences of crime and morals between a council estate and posh area are very small. The whole country is tainted with sin. The whole country looks disgustingly sinful compared to God’s righteousness. When humans look at a council estate they may think that place is so much more sinful than another area, but in reality, both areas are sinful outposts of rebellion against God.

2) Different standards and grids are used to judge the sins of council estates to those of other areas. For example, someone who gets drunk on a council estate is seen as “legless”, whereas someone who gets drunk at a dinner party is seen as “jolly”. Someone from an estate who smokes crack is called a “crackhead”, whereas a politician’s child who does lines of coke “likes to party”. Someone who goes to the bookies each day on an estate is a gambler (who could never be a church leader). Yet someone who works in the city in stocks and shares is a respectable white collar worker (who could easily be a church leader). Council Estates (where everyone knows everyone) are called broken down communities, whereas posh areas (where few people know their neighbours) are seen up respectable communities.

So, are posh areas really any better? Really the question should be, “Are posh areas good enough?” Do they glorify God? Does anywhere in England glorify God? Yes, the true church does, which is why we need churches in council estates and posh areas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Council Estate Christians 25: Indigenous Preaching

In the 19th Century, David Livingstone went to Africa was an explorer missionary. He said this,
"When white men preach... Africans just think we are talking about our odd European ways and customs. But when their own people tell them about Jesus, they see the truth."
'Hero Tales' by Dave and Neta Jackson, p.59

The mission board didn't support Livingstone in raising up indigenous African teachers, so he had to do it himself.

It seems to me that today, there is a desperate need for indigenous council estate preaching in the UK (indigenous in the sense of born and raised on an estate). For me, I often hear British preaching and think, "he's just talking about his ways and customs." I long to hear more preaching from blokes on council estates about Jesus Christ, Lord of Council Estates, who speaks to our own culture.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Educational Raps

Due to popular demand, we now have our educational raps as free downloads on our website:

We've got the following raps:
Church History
Old Testament: Solomon to 2nd Temple
Hebrew verbs: Qal Perfect
Hebrew verbs: Qal Imperfect
Greek verbs: Mounce's master verb chart

I hope these are useful,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My little exegesis centre

Dayper took this photo one night cos he thought it was funny how many screens and book stands I have at my desk.
I actually have two more book stands, but they weren't being used that night.
I often have Bibleworks displayed on one screen, and word/Nota Bene or Logos on the other. The headphones are noise cancelling headphones, very important for where I live.
All of this fits nicely into the corner of my bedroom!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Council Estate Christians 24: More on using class categories

Earlier I wrote about the difficulties in using class categories.

Today I read this article in the news about stopping welfare benefits for middle class people.

It was interesting to me for two reasons:

1) Middle Class was defined as "[Reform' defines middle class as a household where the total income equates to £15,000 a year for each adult and £5,000 per child." Which for a 2 child family would be £40,000.

2) It is amazing to me that in the UK we give benefits to people on £40,000!

But I'm only writing about point 1 today, and I'm really thinking aloud here so don't shoot me!

In the article they've used the term 'middle class' in a very narrow way - in financial terms, and I see why. It makes a lot of sense in their context. When you are trying to work out where to draw the line on benefits - you're going to do it with regards to income - not your accent.

So this got me thinking that it may be helpful to deliberately use the terms 'middle class' or 'working class' in narrow ways depending on what we are talking about. For example:

If I am highlighting the cultural differences between middle class and working class Christians - then it may be helpful to use these terms, and also to explain that I am referring to culture. If on the other hand I am pointing out that wealthy churchs have a responsibility to help poor churches - then maybe its helpful to use the terms middle and working class - and again to define it in economic terms.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Council Estate Christians 23: Is the Church any further behind the rest of Society?

Today I read the following article in the news:


It was a reminder to me how British society seems to be so far behind in looking at inner city problems. It seems to me that whenever we see a problem on the streets, it takes up to 5 years for the rest of society to see these problems and to respond to them.

The guidance of colleges on knife and gang crime is incredibly late. I used to work in an F.E college and had to deal with these issues - and the only guidance I ever received was "If in danger blow a loud whistle"!!!!????!

The police's response to youth gangs is also very late - do you remember a few years ago when the police denied that we had youth gangs?

So, I'm thinking today about two points:

1) The church in Britain is quite far behind in looking at these issues, but so is the rest of society. So we're not just dealing with a church problem, but a problem with British society that affects the church.

2) A lesson to be learned is to listen to inner city indigenous people. If they say there is a gang or knife problem, then it may be worth listening to them. It seems to me that in church planting, youth work, and social action, indigenous people (as in born and bred in inner city areas, not the way the BNP uses the term!) are ignored far too much, and out of date plans are made by people with good intentions but bad information.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Outreach in Kosovo

New Life Church and Higher Vibe is going to Kosovo soon.
We are very grateful for the invitation we have been given from Kosovo, and for the funding that New Life Church Roehampton has provided by God's grace.

Romans 7:5-7 How can we use the Law in Evangelism?

Romans 7:5-7 'How can we use the Law in Evangelism?' from New Life Roehampton on Vimeo.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Council Estate Christians 22: Indigenous Leaders

Rather than write from my perspective about the importance of raising up Council Estate Christians as leaders, I shall quote Harvie Conn here:

"Leaders who do emerge from an indigenous upbringing are extremely valuable assets to a long-term ministry in that part of the city. They will eventually become the contextualist walking in the community filled with the Spirit of God. They are able to contextualize the gospel and bring to the neighborhood [sic] a Messiah who speaks the language of the people and who understands their needs. We believe that this kind of urban leadership is living and surviving in those pockets of the city. Finding and developing indigenous leaders is the most important thing we can do to grow the church in our urban centres. Yet for various reasons indigenous leaders are often ignored by church planters and denominational missionary groups.

Denominations are having difficulty finding this kind of leadership. They wonder where they will find urban leaders. Denominations also are finding the city resistant to their outreach. This is because they are not contextualized into the urban multicultural reality and are working out of a culture that is repellent to many of our city leaders. They do not realize that institutions are not neutral. Institutions have been formed by culture and continue to reinforce that culture within their ranks. The relocated leaders may have been formed in that settings and, therefore, finds it difficult to make headway in the urban area designated to start a church. We believe that denominations would do well to take seriously and seek to develop indigenous leaders."

Harvie M. Conn & Manuel Ortiz "Urban Ministry" p.382

Twynholm Baptist Church in Fulham is a great example of this. They prayed for a family to be saved. A family on a nearby estate got saved, one of youth in that family was Dean Dryden. Dean grew up to be an elder in the church.
If anyone knows more stories like this, please contact me through www.newlifelondon.com

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Coucil Estate Christians 21: Indigenous Christians

Something that I think has been overlooked a lot (in conferences and blogs) is that there are a good number of indigenous Christians living on Council Estates. By indigenous I mean those who were born and raised on council estates, and still live on them.

The reformed community in the UK is presently trying to work out how to cross culturally reach council estates. This is very good news for us.

However, these discussions rarely involve indigenous council estate Christians. I don't know why - we wouldn't have blogs and conferences of white people discussing black people. I don't mean to be rude, I'm sure the intention is good, perhaps people genuinely think that there aren't any indigenous Christians on estates.

In my mind, it seems that one of the best things the reformed churches can do in the UK is to make links with us (council estate Christians from all over the UK). This is something that both Co-mission and Cornhill have done with us (sorry for any others I've missed out). Its something that I hope more groups will do.

Here are some of the benefits of such an approach:

1. Forming symbiotic relationships. Where we recognise that we need each other, and we learn from each other. It doesn't become the mc helping the wc, or the wc helping the mc - instead we have both at the same time.

2. Indigenous theologising - I'll write more on this in a future post.

3. Indigenous leadership - I'll write more on this in a future post.

4. Avoids ethnocentric mission - I think that a lot of well meaning people can sometimes approach mission the wrong way because they are wrongly viewing the people they want to reach. It helps to have some inside people who can tell you, "I don't think that would work," or "that stereotype isn't really accurate."

5. It taps into a (much larger than imagined) number of people who are totally disconnected from the reformed community. For example, I didn't know there were reformed churches in London until Mark Dever did a one day conference in London Sept 2007. I knew there were Pentecostal churches, but didn't know of any reformed ones.

Romans 6:15-23 What kind of slavery do you want?

Romans 6:15-23 'What kind of slavery do you want?' on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Council Estate Christians 20: Please make sure what you say about us is true

I recently wrote as a comment on Tim Chester's blog, and thought I should also post it here. Its an appeal to all Christians, rather than being aimed at Tim.

'I grew up in the so called “underclass” although I didn’t know that until I read a Christian book on urban ministry. The first time I heard the word ‘chav’ out loud was from a Christian who had been to a ‘chav’ party who then described how she dressed up as a pregnant single mum. The first time I heard the idea that people in the benefit culture have disorderly lives and chaotic homes was today when someone pointed me to your blog [Tim Chester's blog]. No offence meant ;)

My experience of growing up in the ‘underclass’ seems so different to what I often hear Christians say about us. I think that a lot of ‘helpful generalisations’, are not generalisations at all, but merely minority cases that stand out and are then treated as the norm.

Here are my suggestions for how we can be cautious in this matter::

1) We can write and talk as if the people we are talking about are sitting in the same room, or at least they’re gonna read it later on the internet.

2) We can make sure our general statements are backed by reliable evidence.

3) We can seek more input from the people we are writing about, and see what they have to say.'

Friday, May 22, 2009

Our Estate on TV 'My Weapon is a Dog'

The BBC did a documentary on dogs being used as weapons. Part of it was on my estate.
It can been seen on i-player here:

The bit in Roehampton starts at 32:53 mins.

I'll write more about some of the issues later.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Council Estate Christians 19: Eric Mason as a good example of preaching

At our church, probably John Piper, Don Carson and Paul Washer are the favourite preachers. But Efrem Buckle (from Calvary Chapel South London)told me I had to start listening to Eric Mason, I did, and I'm very glad I did.
Eric Mason preaches at Epiphany Fellowship in Philly. You can listen to his sermons here:

Here's what i like about Eric:

1) His many cultural references in applications and illustrations.
In Eric's illustrations he will mention things like L.L. Cool J's "Around the way Girl" These are the kind of things that put me at ease. I feel like, I used to have that record - this dude knows me!
I love it when preachers use illustrations from everyday life: Waiting for the bus, in the supermarket line, etc. These things help us to identify with the preacher.
Often in Britain, sermon illustrations will ruin something like this: "the Guardian newspaper had an article the other day that said ......"
- now that probably works well for a lot of people, so I don't wanna knock that. But some of us Council estate Christians, we're longing to hear preachers that have the same experiences as us. We wanna hear about preacher's who are applying the Bible when there's trouble on the streets, or their car gets nicked, or their neighbours are disturbing them, or they get robbed, or when they're just working hard trying to provide for their family, or trying to get educated.
So I like what Eric's doing.

2) His exegesis:
Eric clearly spends time on his exegesis of the text. Every church deserves a good preacher. Even if its on a council estate, it deserves to have someone who can rightly handle the word of God.

3) He shows his exegesis:
This doesn't seem to be fashionable these days, but Eric does it, and I respect him for this. Not only does it work as a good memory aid when he does things like say the Greek word in the original, and spends time explaining his reasoning, But also it helps us to see if he's really getting his points from the text or not. Sadly the Prosperity Gospel has affected Council Estates in London more than Jesus' Gospel. But thanks be to God, sometimes when people see a legit preacher show his exegesis, they realise that the prosperity gospel stuff is wrong, and they start listening to the good stuff instead.

4) He tackles the idols of street culture
I might write more about this in another post in the future.

5) He's glorifying Jesus
Nuff said.

Thank God for Eric Mason.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Piper means by preaching

This link will take you to the video and text of the intro of Piper's sermon last week when he explained what he means by preaching. I think he makes some excellent points:


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Council Estate Christians 18: Good vs Bad Expository Preaching

I previously wrote a defense for expository preaching.

I would however like to clarify that this expository preaching does still need to be good.

I don't agree with people who think expository preaching is no good for council estates - BUT I do think that some expository preaching needs to be better, and I wonder if some people who are down on expository preaching, have heard bad examples?

Particular areas in which I feel expository preaching could improve for council estates is:

1. More verse by verse teaching
2. More anchoring in the text (showing points directly from the Bible text itself)
3. More down to earth, real life applications
4. Less waffling

The 1st 2 are mainly methodological, and can easily be adopted.
The last 2 depend on how much time a pastor has to prepare. I know that the less time I have to work on a sermon, the worse I do with these points.

So lets pray that we'd be better preachers, and see better preachers.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Council Estate Christians 17: Reading books 2

I wrote a while back about reading books here.

Today on Al Mohler's blog I read an interesting post on the stress relieving effect of reading. You can find it here. The info is from the University of Sussex, but I know that Al Mohler is one of the most prolific readers around (N.B BLATANT NAME DROP HERE! Me and Dayper went to his personal library last year and can testify to this!).

My question is this:
If Christians keep on assuming that council estate Christians cannot read, and if they never encourage council estate Christians to read - then will we end up living more stressful lives than we would if people encouraged us to read?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jonah Comic Book in Hebrew with audio

For all you Hebrew students,

MVGH has just posted a link to a great Hebrew resource.

Finally a comic book that reads out the Bible in Hebrew!

You can go directly to the comic here.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Old Testament Rap: 'Solomon to 2nd Temple'

I wrote this for all those trying to get a better understanding of the Old Testament History from Solomon to the 2nd Temple.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Council Estate Christians 16: Physical violence

One of the issues we face on our estate is the threat of physical violence. Sometimes this can be totally unprovoked (as 2 of our church members found a week ago).

Because of this, I think Psalm 7:1-2 is a very useful prayer, and I especially like Brenton's translation of the LXX (Septuagint) on this:

Psalm 7:1 O Lord my God, in thee have I trusted: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me. 2 Lest at any time the enemy seize my soul as a lion, while there is none to ransom, nor to save.

I like this for three reasons:

1) The Street talk in v.1 “from all them” (we would say "dem").

2) The translation “lest at any time” in v.2 which implies that this prayer is prayed in advance, just in case at any time someone might attack him.

3) The image of there being no-one around to save him (v.2) is a familiar idea on a council estate. One minute you can be walking in safety with a bunch of people, the next minute you’re on your own and walk into a dodgy situation. It's good to pray that God would protect us in these situations.

We don't know when the next time is that one of us will be in a dodgy situation, but we can pray this prayer each day, and walk around trusting in God.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Wesley thinks you should be learning Greek and Hebrew at Seminary

Biblical languages are becoming less popular, and often not compulsory for Theology degrees.
I saw this quote from Wesley on Ray Ortlund's blog and thought it was relevant considering conversations and thoughts I have been having lately about getting your money's worth from Seminary:
"Do I understand Greek and Hebrew? Otherwise, how can I undertake, as every Minister does, not only to explain books which are written therein but to defend them against all opponents? Am I not at the mercy of everyone who does understand, or even pretends to understand, the original? For which way can I confute his pretense? Do I understand the language of the Old Testament? critically? at all? Can I read into English one of David's Psalms, or even the first chapter of Genesis? Do I understand the language of the New Testament? Am I a critical master of it? Have I enough of it even to read into English the first chapter of St. Luke? If not, how many years did I spend at school? How many at the University? And what was I doing all those years? Ought not shame to cover my face?"

John Wesley, "An Address to the Clergy," in Works X:491.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A book I would recommend for last year's Greek class, and anyone else studying Theology

This is a great book, that gives very useful advice on how to study Theology in a godly way, and how to go back to your church having studied Theology.

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Council Estate Christians 15: Culture trumps jargon

For years its been common for Christian to try to drop the jargon they use in evangelism and preaching. This is done for good reasons - to not create unnecessary barriers or confusion.

However in the context of council estates, it can also be.
1) Patronizing
2) Ineffective

1) Patronizing:
I say this because I believe that everyone is well used to jargon. Both Pop music and computer games contain a lot of jargon. Then there's jobs - every job has its own jargon. I would argue that people are well used to picking up jargon. Furthermore, it is the way we learn, by hearing something, and guessing what it means, and then having our understanding clarified or corrected by the context and further information. But this first point is really a minor point.

2) Ineffective:
More important than the above point, is that I believe it is ineffective, and this is for 2 reasons:

a) Culture trumps jargon:
You can avoid all of the standard Christian jargon, but if you are not sensitive to the culture, your words will easily fall on deaf ears. If your sermon applications are always about your stocks and shares - then you will have difficulty communicating to the unemployed. If your evangelism is about how God got you through your second degree, then you will have difficulty bringing hope to the single mum.
One the other hand, if you understand the culture you are trying to reach, then you can use jargon, but still reach the people - because you show how God speaks to their situation - and this trumps jargon.

b) Jargon is biblical and effective
The NT contains its fair share of jargon. And this jargon is an effective way of communicating truth. The first time, I tell someone about propitiation - I explain what it means (which takes a few seconds), then I am free to use it in conversation as much as I want. Now, they can be reading the NT at home and know what "propitiation" means when they see it, and now when I witness to them, I can say, "Yeah, remember Christ's death was a propitiation, and so .....".
Unfortunately, during the last few years when we have sought to drop jargon, we have also lost understanding of the words we thought were in the way. For example, many Christians today do not know what "justification" means, or "propitiation".
It seems to me then, that it is more effective to use the jargon the Holy Spirit gave us, and to explain it to people, rather than avoid using it.
Of course not all jargon that we use comes directly from NT words (for example "Salvation history"), but many of the above points still apply.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Our Chuch website updated!

Our site has now been updated, and contains almost all the sermons over the last 3 years, including our "How to not fall away" series through Hebrews, and our present Philippians series.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Council Estate Christians 14: Illiteracy

The BBC news today was highlighting the problem with illiteracy in this country.

Some people think this greatly affects how churches should do things, but it is my belief that illiteracy does not affect the church anywhere near as much as many people think it does.

You do not have to be able to read and write to listen to a sermon, or to listen to the Bible read.

In the days of the Puritans there was higher illiteracy than today but they gave expository sermons, and read the Bible out loud in households so that even those who could not read, could daily listen to the Bible.

There was also high illiteracy in Bible times, but again the Bible was read and preached out loud.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't do anything about illiteracy. My daughter has been supporting a charity in India that teaches illiterate Indian women to read the Bible, and I think this is a great idea.
But my point is that illiteracy is never an excuse to stop expository preaching or being a word based church.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The first ever gangster rap was in the Bible

Some people think that gangster rap is a modern invention, but you can see it clearly in Genesis 4:23-24.

"Lamech said to his wives,
"Adah and Zillah! Listen to me!
You wives of Lamech, hear my words!
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for hurting me.
24 If Cain is to be avenged seven times as much,
then Lamech seventy-seven times!""

It doesn't rhyme in English, but in Hebrew, a lot of the words end in the same vowel.

Lamech makes some bars about killing a man, and then claims that he is justified in doing this, because Cain (who killed an innocent man) was protected 7 times over, so Lamech (who killed someone who murked him) must therefore be avenged 77 times over. Lamech has made his own law, and his own sense of justice, just as gangster rap does.

Its interesting as well to see the difference between Lamech's bars and Adam's lyrics made before the fall,

Gen 2:23 
"Then the man said,
"This one at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one will be called 'woman,'
for she was taken out of man.""

Both Adam and Lamech produced culture. We humans always produce culture. We can blame the gangster rappers of the 90's for the culture they promoted, or we can recognise that what they did has been going on since Genesis 4. We all create culture. The question is, do we produce culture in line with God's word, or in line with our own twisted way of looking at the world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Council Estate Christians 13: Race Issues

My last post in this series was on the problems with class categories. There are also problems with race categories.
I can do no better here, than to refer you to the talk Thabiti gave at Together For the Gospel 2008 (where me and Dayper went).

The mp3 can be found here:

Whilst its downloading you might want to read this, from the ESV study Bible article on race:
Recent genetic studies from the Human Genome Project give interesting confirmation to the very large degree of genetic similarity shared by all human beings and the extremely small degree of genetic dissimilarity distinguishing one people group from another. The best of contemporary science shows that the human genome sequence is almost exactly the same (99.9%) in all people. In fact,

DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies (races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals,

no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another.

There also is

no genetic basis for divisions of human ethnicity.

People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles [possible forms in which a gene for a specific trait can occur] in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other.

Why then do people with different racial characteristics originate from different regions of the world? The human race, starting with Adam and Eve, has always included not only genetic variations of eye color, height, and facial appearance, but also of skin and hair color now associated with different racial groups. At some early point when people began migrating to various parts of the earth, some variations within the one human gene pool became geographically isolated from other variations, so that people living in what is now northern Europe came to look more like each other and different from people living in what is now Africa, or Asia, or North America.

Another interesting implication of this has to do with genetic inheritance of skin color. Modern genetic studies show that when a lighter-skin person has a child with a darker-skin person, none of their children will have skin darker than that of the darkest parent. This means that if the hereditary transfer of skin color has operated in the same way from the beginning of human history, then the genetic variety in skin color (which is a very tiny difference from the standpoint of human genetics) must have existed from the very beginning. This suggests that Adam and Eve's children (see Gen. 5:4) would have likely had different skin colors, and that Adam and Eve would have likely had different skin colors as well.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Church History Rap

I'm studying for a Church History Exam at the moment, and the only way I can learn the dates is to rap them.
So here's the rap I've done, and I hope it will help other Church History students, especially Oak Hill students doing CH 1.1.
It can also be downloaded as an mp3 at www.newlifelondon.com/media.asp

There is a lot of poetic licence used, so don't take all the lyrics literally.There may also be mistakes - if you find any please let me know!


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Council Estate Christians 12: The problems with using class categories

I said in Council Estate Christians 10 that I would later talk about the problems with using the categories of upper/middle/working class.

Here's the problem:
The categories of upper/middle/working class don't really work, because:

1) We are inconsistent in how we use them.

2) There is no proper way to measure class

Sometimes people use class categories to speak of
education background,
sometimes occupation,
sometimes wealth,
sometimes culture,
sometimes an accent,
sometimes ancestry,
sometimes clothing,
sometimes housing,
sometimes values.

But these categories overlap too much to be useful:

For example:
Someone can have a posh accent, but have a low income job.
Someone can dress posh, but live in a council flat.
Someone can come from 'good stock' but be a drug dealer.
- these categories simply don't work to measure class:

My own story:

For example: I was brought up in a council estate in a single parent family, with a thick London accent - all these things supposedly make me working class.

But I then went to a Boarding school, and received a good education, including GCSE's, A-level's, an Honours Degree, an HNC, a DipHE, a Cert TESOL, and a DTLLS. Does this make me middle class? No one has ever said so.

I also adopted a public school boy accent at school to stop people taking the mickey out of my London accent. But in the holidays on the estate I used my normal accent. What class does that make me?

I've worked in factories wearing overalls, but I've also worked in offices wearing suits.

I've earned a good salary, and I've also earned a low wage.

I've DJ-ed, and mc-ed, and produced street music, but I've also gone shooting on rifle ranges.

I've been in street fights, but also been to posh dinners.

I don't pronounce my th's, and I use street talk, but I've also learned French, Latin, Greek, Albanian, and presently Hebrew.

Now, everyone who knows me says I'm working class. When I wanted to be an Army officer, I was warned of not relating too closely with the squaddies, and when I went to University the first time I was told by one of my lecturers, "You really are the epitome [or sterotype?] of urban youth." But at the same time, I've surely fulfilled a lot of the criteria for being middle class - haven't I?

So how do we measure what class I'm in? or what class anyone is in?
I don't think we can.

So why bother writing this post?

Because of the gospel issue that is at stake here:

Because people in Britain are always incorrectly thinking in terms of class. People are labeling one another, without sufficient grounds to do so. The result that concerns me the most is that people say,
"Well working class people can't really understand the Bible, so we need a different approach"
"Working class people are very hard to the gospel"
"Well, I just couldn't reach the working class with the gospel"

What's the solution?

I think part of the solution is:

1) To acknowledge the limitations of the so-called class categories.

2) To recognize that these categories are part of our British World View. We have presuppositions about class, we have a whole metanarrative about class, and this will effect the way we respond to people.

3) To seek a more biblical world view:
...a) To see that we are all from the race of Adam. That anyone we meet is another human from Adam (rather than a middle class or working class person). To see that this person's greatest need is to be in Christ.
...b) To see that when we become Christians we are in Christ, and our identity should be in Christ, as well as how we view other Christians.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female– for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (NET)

4) To think more about this. I'm not saying we should never use the terms working/middle/upper class, but I'm also not saying we should use the terms. I think we need to think about this carefully.

Philippians 1:12-14 'All I care about is the Gospel'

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

My soon-coming Bibleworks 8 posts

I had realized this Christmas that I wouldn't be able to purchase the upgrade to Bibleworks 8, but then the good people at Bibleworks sent me a copy to review.

As soon as it arrives I will start posting about it, so watch this space!