Thursday, 1 January 2015

On Labels

“Don't swear!”, a friend once said when I used the term 'evangelical'.  It was the 1980s.  He was very much on the charismatic wing of the church and it was fashionable at that time for some to dismiss the churches evangelical heritage as irrelevant.  I don't follow the soap opera of which Christian leader has said what to whom very closely, but I suspect that the boot is now on the other foot.  To call yourself 'Charismatic' in some circles it to put your head well above the parapet.

I am not keen, however, to abandon a label just because there has been a serious attempt to discredit it.  In fact, insults can be a badge of honour.  The terms 'Christian', 'Methodist', 'Puritan' were coined as terms of abuse.  Spurs supporters have confused the authorities by defiantly calling themselves 'Yids'.  My daughter was asking some time ago for a t-shirt labelled 'Geek'.

Blessed are you when...

The next phase of my blog explains to some degree where I am doctrinally, or to be more exact, my ecclesiology – my view as to how church should be.  It is not to say I won't ever change my mind, but I have firm convictions which are are carefully thought out.

I think that in the UK, terms are less nuanced than they are in the US where, for example, 'Reformed', 'Evangelical' and 'Fundamentalist' are separate terms with their own well defined adherents.  I'm not as sophisticated as that.  Apart from fundamentalist or 'fundy', which has been almost completely discredited over here, I could be happily defined as Reformed or Evangelical.

So the best thing, I think, is to use a term and then define it with my own personal interpretation.

So, very simply, I am going to go through four terms which represent 'where I am', and what foundations a church should be built upon.  Some of my views are 'mainstream' and others are 'radical'.  The church I have a vision for would be pretty unique in the North of England.  Possibly unique in the UK.  Maybe unique in Western Europe.  But I will be bold enough to say that in order for the church to thrive in the 21st century, we need churches like this!


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