Commissioning Service

We are delighted to welcome our new Assistant Minister, Matt Peckham, and his family to our church.  To celebrate his new role with us and to give thanks to God, we are having a Commissioning Service for Matt following a church lunch on Sunday 15th September.  We expect the service to start at approximately 2pm but we invite all guests to join us for the lunch at around 12pm.

There will be toys in an adjacent room provided for small children but parents will be responsible for their own children.

 

Church Weekend Away

Weekend Away – 27th-29th September

We are delighted to welcome Rev. Dr. Stephen Dancer to be our guest speaker for the weekend.  Stephen is the minister of Solihull Presbyterian Church and keeps an online blog.  He is married to Susan who is the Deputy Head of a college in Birmingham.

Do pray for the weekend: for Stephen as he completes his preparations, for the practical arrangements, for our fellowship together and for our growth in the faith.

Let’s pray together that we would…  “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet 3:18)

Booking Form

Address:

Sizewell Hall
Sizewell
Leiston
IP16 4TX

Meet the Man at the centre of it all

 

We believe the Bible is the Word of God.  And as such, we take time each Sunday and during the week in our ‘homegroups’ to study the Bible.  We believe that as we do so, God teaches us, challenges us and trains us to serve Him.  As a church, we want to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3)

You don’t need to know much about the Bible to visit us.  But we hope you’ll come to learn to love digging deep into the Bible each week in time.  We trust that as you dig into the Bible that you will come to meet the man who stands at the centre of the Christian Faith and the centre of the life of our church, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Tim Farron Resigns as Leader of Lib Dems

I’m sure you’ve seen the news.  Tim Farron has stepped down as leader of the Liberal Democrat political party as he views his leadership of the party as incompatible with his faith in Christ.  Whether you’re supportive of his (and the Lib Dems) policies or not, his situation reveals much about our society’s willingness to tolerate and/or accept traditional Christian views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.  It is concerning.

Do have a look at his resignation speech in full below:

Farren has written further on the matter in a short blog post for the Spectator here.

Lord David Alton’s, cross bench peer in the House of Lords and committed Christian, perspective on this turn of events is a valuable read.  But, if you can make the time, this analysis from Stephen Kneale deserves careful consideration.  (I don’t know Kneale and am not commending any other of his blog posts.)  Here’s a snippet:

The real irony here is that the progressivist keepers of liberalism are finding they are less tolerant and liberal than Evangelicals. For the Evangelical can maintain something is sinful, such as gay sex, whilst defending homosexual rights and loving their gay neighbour. Evangelicals know, better than most, that we all fall short of God’s standards. We are no less sinners than anyone else. If we are called by Christ to love our enemies, how much more readily can we love people who are not so much our enemies but just disagree with us? Just as we expect non-Christians to defend our right to believe, so we can defend their right to demur. It seems, however, the keepers of progressive liberalism cannot reciprocate. Not only will they not defend to the death your right to say what they dislike, they will insist you stop thinking it and will hound you until you recant at which point they will drive you from public life for not fulsomely affirming their predetermined views at the first time of asking.

Not only are we kidding ourselves if we think we live in a tolerant liberal society, the spirit of Voltaire is dead. Those who claim to be liberal are no longer any such thing.

 

Islam and Violence

In the aftermath of yet another attack by Islamic extremists in Europe, the claim that Islam is ‘truly a religion of peace’ becomes increasingly difficult to accept without question. Much has been written in recent days, but, for me, three great articles stand out as useful for Christian consideration.

Firstly, Adam Taylor writing in the Washington Post, notes the similarities in the regulation of society between ISIS and Saudi Arabia suggesting that we cannot simply dismiss ISIS as an isolated, extreme form of Islam.  The summary graphic created for the article is telling:

The second article appeared on the USA today website and is written by Nabeel Qureshi, a muslim convert to Christianity now working as a Christian evangelist with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.  He briefly assesses Quaranic teaching, hadiths and the related Sunnah.  He argues that the literal interpretation of many texts is indeed violent:

Surah 9 is a command to disavow all treaties with polytheists and to subjugate Jews and Christians (9.29) so that Islam may “prevail over all religions” (9.33). It is fair to wonder whether any non-Muslims in the world are immune from being attacked, subdued or assimilated under this command. Muslims must fight, according to this final chapter of the Quran, and if they do not, then their faith is called into question and they are counted among the hypocrites (9.44-45). If they do fight, they are promised one of two rewards, either spoils of war or heaven through martyrdom. Allah has made a bargain with the mujahid who obeys:Kill or be killed in battle, and paradise awaits (9.111).

Muslim thought leaders agree that the Quran promotes such violence. Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation in the United Kingdom, has said, “We Muslims must admit there are challenging Koranic passages that require reinterpretation today. … Only by rejecting vacuous literalism are we able to condemn, in principle, ISIS-style slavery, beheading, lashing, amputation & other medieval practices forever (all of which are in the Quran). … Reformers either win, and get religion-neutral politics, or lose, and get ISIL-style theocracy.”

This is significant in that, for example, ISIS recruiters are appealing not to (perceived) social inequalities of life in the West, but to their scriptures.  Their seemingly persuasive arguments are not so much social or political as they are theological:

I believe what the recruiters themselves say sheds the most insight on the radicalization process. ISIL’s primary recruiting technique is not social or financial but theological. With frequent references to the highest sources of authority in Islam, the Quran and hadith (the collection of the sayings of the prophet Muhammad), ISIL enjoins upon Muslims their duty to fight against the enemies of Islam and to emigrate to the Islamic State once it has been established.

Finally, and perhaps best of all, is an article on the ‘Together for the Gospel’ website by Caleb Greggsen.   Greggson argues that violence has always had a central place in the spread and growth of competing ‘Islamic traditions’.  Each grouping vies for the title of ‘true successors’ to Mohammed.  In doing so, violence is intrinsic to their progress – ‘might is right’ dominates this thinking:

A better question to ask is whether or not there is a legitimate place for violence within Islamic tradition. The answer is yes. The primary means of determining this right [to be recognised as the true successor] in Islam is power. According to Islamic thinking, if you are in power and succeeding, then God is clearly blessing and supporting you. If you are not, then God has chosen not to bless you. Of the first four caliphs after Mohammed, three of them were violently murdered, either by assassination, mob, or in battle, all by “fellow” Muslims who supported other leaders. The first two Islamic dynasties came into power by slaughtering those who held power before them. Islam’s history only gets bloodier from there, since might makes right in a way that is foreign to the Judeo-Christian world. Despite the shocking number of Christians or secular Westerners being killed by Muslims, Muslims are killing even greater numbers of other Muslims.

Whilst violence has characterised Islam throughout history, Greggson adds a biblical perspective noting that:

Physical violence has been a distinguishing mark of all humanity ever since Genesis 4. Violence is not unique to Islam. It’s a distinctive of sinful human hearts. In other words, Islam does not make people violent. Sin does. As a man-made religion, Islam is just one more tool people use to harden the heart and embrace sin.

And here’s the challenge with which Greggson concludes which should give all Christians pause for thought:

We know—or should know—that Muslims are humans created in God’s image and distorted by the fall. They need the same gospel as we do. Muslims are not the enemy, but they are in bondage to him.

Moreover, we cannot let the threat of physical violence prevent us from fulfilling the Great Commission. The gospel is not just for “regular” peaceful Muslims. It is also for those who will try to kill us. The threat of violence challenges the validity of our belief that the gospel is infinitely precious and worthy of being taken to all peoples.

 

Winter Celebration – Thanks!

Thank you so much to all who turned up for our Winter Celebration last Sunday afternoon.  It was a great time of activities, music and crafts.  And the Frozen bouncy castle seemed to be a particular hit.

Thanks in particular to Heather, Nat and Naomi for all their planning and hard work which made it possible.

Peter Tatchell and the ‘Gay Cake’ row

It was with great surprise that I read of Peter Tatchell’s change of mind in his column in Monday’s Guardian newspaper.

2 years ago, a bakery run by confessing evangelical Christians in Northern Ireland, refused to make a cake iced with the slogan, ‘Support Gay Marriage.’  The owners, a young married couple, argued that to refuse to produce the cake was not an act of hatred against gay people, but instead an act of love toward God and an act consistent with their moral position.  Their opposition, they argued, was to the principle rather than the people.

The Equality Commission of Northern Ireland disagreed with them and fined the bakery.  And Peter Tatchell, well known supporter of LGBT issues in the media, was delighted.  But now he has changed his mind – as we all are free to after thoughtful consideration.  He writes that “much as I wish to defend the gay community, I also want to defend freedom of conscience, expression and religion.”

Tatchell’s explanation of his change of heart is fascinating to read.  I agree with his conclusion – an unusual statement to make from someone in my position, I know – as he writes:

The law suit against the bakery was well-intended. It sought to challenge homophobia. But it was a step too far. It pains me to say this, as a long-time supporter of the struggle for LGBT equality in Northern Ireland, where same-sex marriage and gay blood donors remain banned. The equality laws are intended to protect people against discrimination. A business providing a public service has a legal duty to do so without discrimination based on race, gender, faith and sexuality.

However, the court erred by ruling that Lee was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation and political opinions.The Ashers verdict could encourage far-right extremists to demand the promotion of anti-migrant and anti-Muslim opinions

 

His cake request was refused not because he was gay, but because of the message he asked for. There is no evidence that his sexuality was the reason Ashers declined his order.

We look forward to knowing the outcome of the bakery owners’ appeal.