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Now that I have retired (sort of) I have set myself the task of re-reading the Bible from cover to cover. Not that it’s a task. It’s actually something of a joy to be able to read in an unhurried way, to freshen my memory of its content and to gain new insights in the light of more recent experiences and world events.
I am aware that today there is a vast range of opinion about the Bible, much of it conflicting and uninformed, even within Christian circles. I don’t of course want you to think that I think that I have all the answers, even if I do think it sometimes. I do, however, want you to know some of my background, not to big-note myself, but so that you may give my blog consideration as coming from one who does have some knowledge of his subject.
I was brought up in the Open Brethren Assemblies in England, so I initially experienced something of a fundamentalist approach to Scripture. While thankful for the demonstration of the love of the Scriptures and my grounding in them, my appreciation of the Bible has broadened with growing understanding and more nuanced insights.
Nevertheless, over the years I have remained fairly conservatively Evangelical in my approach, as I have navigated an independent “Holiness” Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Baptists, The Congregationals, The Uniting Church and finally the Anglican Communion. Over time I have observed the strengths and weaknesses in each, both at a theological and practical level.
I appreciate an adherence to Scripture as God’s Word to humanity, but I have also learned to value the less excessive influences of the Charismatic movement, sometimes neglected by Conservative Evangelicals. What I mean is that there are people who will reject evidence of the Holy Spirit if such experiences are not explicitly recorded in the Bible, whereas I would want to have a more open mind about such things, provided that they do not oppose Scripture.
During my lifetime I have found myself in leadership positions that I have not actively sought, from the Christian Unions at High School and Teachers’ College through preaching and teaching in the Uniting Church, to ordination to the priesthood in the Anglican Church, where I have served as rector, area dean and mission archdeacon in Evangelical and Liberal-Anglo-Catholic Dioceses. In over 25 years of full-time work in the Anglican Church I gained a Bachelor of Theology with honours and a Master of Arts in Theology. I have lectured occasionally at Tahlee Bible College and Newcastle Diocese’s Morpeth College using Australian College of Theology and Charles Sturt University materials. I have over 1000 sermons catalogued on my computer and have written a short study book, “Exploring the Meaning of Life Through Great Themes in the Bible” published by SPCKA (since taken over by Acorn Press and now out of print – though I still have a few hundred copies if you contact me). I have also written an apologetic work called, “Making Sense of Faith” published by Ark, (available from Koorong Books and Amazon) examining my own personal reasons for believing the gospel message, from various perspectives.
My interest, in the first book and in my teaching generally, has been to give people the big picture of how the Bible holds together from beginning to end. Two outstanding influences in this regard have been the two year Bethel Bible Series of 56 studies (more recently expanded by Graeme MacRobb, former principal of Sydney’s Church Army College – and now reduced to 40 studies with the extra studies as supplementary material) and Graeme Goldsworthy’s little book “Gospel and Kingdom”.
Before entering the ministry full-time, I enjoyed primary teaching for 16 years, so I know what it like to have a “real” job!
I am married to Lisa and have three adult children to my late wife, Susan. Presently I have five grandchildren.
Well, now that you know something of where I am coming from, I hope you will find my future blogs, with other resources (mp3s, pdfs and video links) that I’ve posted, helpful and practical.
How interesting to lean about your journey
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Great blog John.
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Hopefully, this will find you…with not too many noticing. Keith and Beryl B said they wish they could catch up with you.