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

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!