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July 2015

Re: Pope: 'biblical mandate to care for creation'
Last weekend the church in GB was invited to attend a second Trumpet Call at the ICC in BHam; it was a call to national prayer; and it was a repeat of the Trumpet Call in 2013. The key verse (Num10:9), theme and reason were the same: that the church would wake up and face the Enemy, engage with how God’s moving in the UK and be ready for the days ahead.
It was repeated because we (nationally) have slumbered for the last two years and not woken up, remained disengaged and wholly unprepared for what God’s shortly to do in Britain.
Instead, the church continues to entertain itself with trivia, appease liberal ideas and jumps on irrelevant bandwagons like Climate Change. Ok, so it’s a ‘good cause’ – and I do like the idea of recycling myself - but it can never be a Godly cause. Indeed, it flies in the face of Scriptural truth - and praying for it puts us in danger of actually opposing God’s will.
Admittedly, I’m just an unlicensed deacon in a small market town, so what do I know? And I’ll acknowledge that; but then take note of our own General Secretary who only recently encouraged all Baptists with a word in season: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Behold, it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert streams in the wasteland” (Is 43:18-19); adding that, “I believe this is a word for the church in the UK, but my first role is to devote myself to prayer for God's new thing and to call Baptists to join me in beginning to light beacons of prayer.” ( Lynn Green, 17 Jun 15, BUGB).
We cannot save the planet, and that is not our calling; so don’t be distracted. (Ps 102:26; Is 65:17; Matt 24:35; 28:19,20; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33; Rom 8:22; 2Pet 3:10; Rev 21:1,4).
Andy Burns

I agree that a renewed call to present the Gospel to an unbelieving world is an ever present truth, but we must also live out the Gospel. It has rightly been said that we all need to go through three conversions and not only one: a conversion to Christ, the first and most important step; and then a conversion to being the church, Christ's body on earth, searching in the power of the Spirit to know and do Christ's will; and thirdly a conversion to the world, for which Christ died - to be involved in Christ's mission in and for the world.
Creation is God's act of grace and God sees it as good (Gen.1:31). God calls human beings to care for creation (Gen.2:15) and see this as one of the three essential relationships to which God calls us: a relationship with God, with other human beings, and with creation (Genesis 2). The Wisdom writers suggest that we ask the animals about what God has done (Job 12:7-10) and God takes Job on a walk through creation to teach Job about God's love and purposes (Job 38-40).
But supremely for Christians we recognise that Christ is the author of creation (John 1:1-5) and that Christ came to redeem the whole of creation, as that key verse for so many evangelists states (John 3:16) - For God so loved the cosmos .....; and Paul saw that in the cross and resurrection that the whole of creation was redeemed and reconciled to God (Col.1:20).
Sadly, human beings are always being pulled off course. In Genesis 3 we read that human beings desire to play God, to hold the power and to believe that we know best, broke the relationships that God had outlined in Genesis 2 - our relationship with God with each other and with creation broken by the Fall.
God renewed his covenant with the whole of creation after the Flood (Gen.9), but still human beings wanted to play God (Gen.11). So, in the Book of Revelation God reveals that our lust for wealth and power (the beast and the whore of Rev.17) leads to the damage and desolation of creation (Rev.16).
Hence Jesus' call to obey the two key commands: to love God and to love our neighbour, including the whole created world, and Paul's hope that when Christians rediscover their Christ-like humanity in Christ that creation will cease groaning (Rom.8:18-25). Finally our ultimate hope is in God's promise and purpose to renew the whole of creation (Rev.21). In the meantime we are called to work with God in his mission to redeem creation: people and nature, for all are here to bring glory to God.
We must indeed hear the call to pray for God's world, his people and his creation, and pray that we might be those who live and speak God's good news to the whole of creation.
John Weaver

This is so depressing. It has nothing to do with the gospel. It's become increasingly apparent that the whole climate change scare is built on deception. Tens of thousands of scientists have dissented, lead authors have resigned from the IPCC because of the deceit, we learn of climate records being "amended" and "homogenised" to distort the records, emails come to light exposing the fiddling of figures, vilification of scientists who refuse to conform.... It's even worse than an "irrelevant bandwagon". We should worship the Creator, not the created, yet the people behind the climate change scam are pantheists and earth worshippers. How is the Pope joining in with this deception a fit topic for support by the Baptist Times?

Sadly I do so agree with you. There is so much deception within the climate change caucus, accompanied also by an aggressive and career-threatening suppression of any dissent. And what is even sadder is that the solutions pursued by the climate change lobby are so deeply regressive and damaging. Regressive, in that vast sums are being forcibly passed from the poorest in our society to the very wealthiest. And also damaging, both to the environment itself (do supporters of wind energy, for example, have any idea at all as to how destructive and poisonous just one pylon is to Scotland's peatlands, and how extraordinarily costly this is in the CO2 emissions that they claim to be saving?), and also to the third world poor (do supporters of bio-fuels, for example, appreciate the millions who are now being forced into starvation because of the soaring price of their staple food crops which are being diverted for other use?). How is any of this wickedness 'Christian'? It may be well meant. But it is deeply misguided. There is so much deceit. And so much hypocrisy. And almost zero readiness to honestly examine the true environmental cost/benefits of the solutions they so passionately pursue (let alone the overwhelmingly negative economic and societal impacts). 
OF COURSE we should be careful of creation resources. But very little of what is going on under the 'climate change' banner is giving any true respect to the environment, let alone to the multitude of lives and communities that its policies are destroying.
Let's get back to our true mission. Please.
Keith Jowett 

Re: Don’t panic, Captain Mainwaring! 
I actually welcome this report – and, yes, I have read it! For I think it is soundly based on an analysis both of the fundamental changes that have occurred to the national religious consensus since 1944 and the very real difficulties that schools have faced in maintaining their current responsibilities. It highlights the fact that worship cannot be imposed while strongly underlining the necessity for young people to gain an understanding of the crucial role of religion in our complex modern world.
One thing the report does do is make a clear distinction between religious “instruction”, defined as the uncritical promulgation of a particular set of beliefs, and religious “education”, which has a far broader remit. While this distinction will be familiar to RE specialists, one could perhaps see a problem arising in that religious “education” must necessarily involve not just the teaching of 
the practices of the various religious communities, but also some notion of their distinctive doctrines. Will headteachers and other find this division hard to define? Will arguments over exactly where it lies lead to contention or, at least, over-caution?
One thing which has surprised me in this report is its advocacy of faith schools. My belief (and, yes, I am a hypocrite, because I sent my own son to one!) is that faith schools can keep members of different communities apart instead of mixing them together. I note the fragmentation of our society and am therefore surprised that this report did not recommend making all schools "secular". Furthermore, no school is without a predominant ethos: the existence of faith schools may give the impression that other schools are in fact "atheistic", when they should not be.
This report will, I am sure, provoke a negative reaction from many. That will not just include some Christians but also those who believe that all mention of religion should be banished from the public square. I hope that many others will applaud its sensible suggestions that schools be required to substantially enhance the quality of religious education which they provide and that the present anomalous and unworkable situation be rectified.
Andrew Kleissner

Re: Twenty reasons to go to church
Regarding number 20......isn't God *everywhere*, Andy?
Trevor Coultart

Re: The beauty in the building 
In one measure, any religious building represents a "sacrifice" to the deity, even if the building is just a basic hall to enable worshippers to meet together. A "poor" building most probably represents the struggle of the organisation to find finance; even if the philosophy of the faith prefers a "plain" building, as funds allow they will go for something which is still aesthetically pleasing, or at least not deliberately made ugly.
Beyond that, the question that needs to be asked is: does this or that feature enhance the worship experience (even if it is only a toilet), or is it there only to show the wealth and power of the person or organisation behind it - e.g. the royal chapel in a chateau?
At the other end of the scale, it's worth reflecting how even the poorest believers will make space to represent the presence of their god in their home. Although in my case it's mainly a collection of song books.
Jeff Evans

I think I share your "torn-ness", Colin - although, on balance, I think that great buildings probably "do" more for me than they do for you!
One thought, though. I think that most Baptists would not want to spend vast sums of money on their building or its furnishings: our approach to worship tends to be functional and we prefer to spend our money on Christian service! Nevertheless, we must remember that many people do respond to their surroundings: so why is it that some of our church buildings seem to be almost wilfully dowdy and shabby? Douglas McBain once pleaded for us to instil a sense of beauty into our buildings, without spending a great deal of money - although he did feel that good artwork might well enhance worship. Equally, I remember a former Principal of Spurgeon's College saying that its entrance hall (at the time painted a dull grey and floored with institutional lino) represented "a denial of God's creativity". It was redecorated soon afterwards!
Andrew Kleissner

Re: Making space for God
I have read Lynn's article, all about her vision for Beacons of Prayer and I wish to say that I too am being led in a similar way. I have just returned from the European Leaders Advance conference held in Westminster Methodist Hall over the past week. This was also a call to recognize that God is wanting to revive Europe. I am the new Church Secretary at Harrow Baptist Church, and we have a relatively new minister who is currently on Sabbatical seeking where God would lead our church with regard to mission. I believe with all my heart that Lynn has picked up on the move of God in the UK. I do not know what our Father is planning, nor how he will accomplish it, but I do know that prayer is key. It is the prayer of seeking to know God's heart for the UK, both at a national and local level. It is learning how we can 'do the will of Him who sent us and to finish the work He gives us.' 
Lin Artus

I was mulling over the same verse this morning - reflecting on how those who opt out of church involvement often wrestle with a sense of dissatisfaction, but also on how the 'work' Jesus was doing didn't involve a commitment to a programme, but a commitment to being available to a person the Father brought across His path.
Graham Heath

Amen Father help me to stay centred on your will and finish your work
Yinka Oyekan 

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