Faith that matters – An interview with Philip Yancey

Yancy_by_randal_olsson

There is an interesting interview with Philip Yancy on the Christian Post site, mainly introducing his new book “What good is God?”, but there is also some nice insight about him as well:

Philip Yancey grew up in a strict, fundamentalist church in the Deep South.

He spent most of his early life in a bubble, attending a Bible college that in hindsight seems like “an island fortress against the outside world, one with its own private culture.” Even the Sixties’ sexual revolution did not penetrate the college’s sealed environment, he says.

The school’s list of forbidden activities included dancing, playing cards, skating at public rinks and movies, among others. Students could only play music “consistent with a Christian testimony;” women’s skirts were measured; and men could not grow a beard or moustache.

He went through a period of reacting against everything he was taught and later realized that “God had been misrepresented” to him.

Since then Yancey has explored some of the most basic questions of the Christian faith with a worldwide audience. His popular books include Disappointment with God and Where is God When it Hurts. His newest book explores the question “What good is God?”

It really is worth a read – find the full interview here.

Photo by Randal Olsson – copied from the Christian Post site.

An interview with Rowan Williams

Rowan_williams

In a recent interview published in the New Statesman, Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury:

“….talks about religious longing, how the Church of England enriches society and why we shouldn’t be expected to accept austerity to salvage the economy”

It is well worth a read.  Archbishop Willams gives excellent answers to some sharp, poignant and deeply relevant questions – such as:

….despite the decline in church attendance, there remains in societies like ours a strong “religious longing”. Does this have anything to do with the growth of non-traditional, especially non-Christian, forms of “spirituality”?
Religious “longing” is a really interesting issue. Outside the metropolitan village in which a lot of the media work, there remains a powerful residual investment in the local church – witness the role of the church and the vicar in communities in trauma, whether the Soham murders or recently in Cumbria. I could parallel this from experience in deprived communities in Wales, too.
There are bits of human experience and ­suffering that have to go somewhere, and ­secular society simply doesn’t have the spaces, the words or the rituals. This does not translate into conventional church attendance and orthodox belief – and perhaps it seldom has in history, if the truth be told; but it still takes for granted a body/community/place where a person can feel related to something more than the sum of their own anxieties and their society’s normal patterns of talk and behaviour.
It isn’t quite the same thing as the interest in “spirituality”, which is more to do with the individual’s discovery of new ways of feeling nourished or supported, that may or may not be anchored in any place or tradition. I’m personally wary of giving too much weight to this trend or cluster of trends; but Taylor is right in seeing it as an expression of discontent with an exclusively secular frame of reference. The ambiguity about it is that it can appear as just another way of making the consuming individual feel good, without much in the way of commitment or demand.

Read the full interview here.

Photo copied from the New Statesman article.

Catching waves – an interview with Francis Chan

Francis-chan-photo_2

There was an interesting interview with Francis Chan posted on the Leadership Journal website last week – as the introduction explains:

Francis Chan is making waves. Cornerstone Church, which he launched in 1994 in Simi Valley, California, has grown to reach thousands. Chan’s popular podcast has carried his prophetic preaching to thousands more. And in 2008 his first book, Crazy Love, made a significant impact.

Recently he announced that he was leaving Cornerstone to take “a leap of faith” to a new kind of ministry. This interview was conducted before he announced his departure, but it points to the kind of spirit that many pastors long for in their churches, and also gives clues to what motivates Francis Chan.

He is calling Christians, leaders, and churches to complete surrender to Christ. The ramifications in Chan’s church have been significant. Cornerstone is actively pursuing a new paradigm for ministry—a shift away from orchestrating large gatherings toward smaller geographic home groups with indigenous elders as leaders. This is part of what Cornerstone sees as the radical commitment Christ expects.

Chan is quick to note that the shifts at Cornerstone are not the result of his leadership alone. The changes have rippled out from the community of elders at the center of the church as they have together rediscovered the importance of prayer and the Holy Spirit.

“We’re not making waves,” says Chan, an avid surfer, “we’re just catching them.”

Interesting stuff.  I would love to have the opportunity to sit and have a coffee with Chan – he comes across as a man who is really seeking after God’s heart.

If you are ever in Northumberland, Francis……..

Read the full interview here.

An interview with Mark Sayers

I am currently reading Mark Sayers’ new book, The Vertical Self, and thought I would highlight an interview with him published in this months’ Sign of the Times Magazine.  I find his take on contemporary culture really interesting and enlightening, and always enjoy reading what he has to say – either in his books, on his blog, or in interviews like this one.

In case you are wondering, “Who on earth is Mark Sayers?”, here is an exert from the ‘Bio’ on his website:
“Mark Sayers is an author and speaker who specializes in interpreting popular culture from a Christian viewpoint.  Mark is the founder of Über a ministry that specializes in issues of youth and young adult discipleship. He is also the leader of the Red East church in Melbourne, Australia, an innovative Christian community specifically reaching the young adult demographic. He is a highly sought after speaker, trainer, consultant and thinker in the areas of popular culture and faith”.
His other book, The Trouble with Paris, is also well worth the read – mainly because he provides some real insight into the effects of consumer culture on Christian practice.

The interview outlines to some degree his understanding of ‘hyper-reality’ and ‘hyper-consumerism’:
“Hyper-reality”” is Mark Sayers’ shorthand description of the society in which he lives and works. “It’s a complex, sociological term,” Sayers explains, “but, put simply, it’s the way that our mediadrenched culture creates false realities—or realities that seem even better than the real thing.
“It’s the ‘Photoshopped’ model who doesn’t actually look like that and never could look like that outside that sort of photo shoot. It’s the brochure that shows you the perfect tropical island that probably is infested with mosquitoes and where it rains three quarters of the year. So I’ve used the term to describe how our culture presents this version of life which is always better than the real thing”.”

While not arguing against consumerism as such, Sayers identifies a kind of hyper-consumerism that so invades our lives today. “”There’s a point where consumerism switches from selling things for their benefit or function to promising all these extra things”,” he says. “”It’s a combination of media and technology— it’s being overwhelmed by our entertainment culture that’s absolutely everywhere. Everyday we’re exposed to as many as 5000 marketing messages, which is completely enveloping. It’s a rainstorm— and we’re running around trying not to get wet”.

“”Plus in our secular culture where religion’s been taken out of the public arena, there’s a vacuum and advertising, marketing and media have jumped into that vacuum”.”

It’s all interesting stuff – well worth reading and thinking about.

Just in case I’ve sparked some interest, also check out his blog here.

Tying the Clouds Together – An Interview with Rob Bell

An interesting interview with Rob Bell called Tying the Clouds Together was published on Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal a couple of weeks ago – it is worth reading for no other reason that to get a feel of Rob’s take on preaching and ministry.

Just in case you have never heard of Rob Bell, here is how the article introduces him:

“He (Rob) once planted a church by teaching through Leviticus. He can use a rabbit carved from a bar of soap to illustrate the nature of suffering. Google his name and the term “Sex God” will appear among the top entries.
Rob Bell is the most interesting preacher in the world.
Bell is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but his reputation as an innovative communicator came largely through his video teaching series, NOOMA. Since launching Mars Hill in 1999, Bell’s ministry has expanded into books, DVDs, and live tours, but he is still committed to shepherding his community at Mars Hill through preaching.”

Quite an introduction – does he live up to it?  The most interesting preacher in the world?  I think there are some out there who would disagree.

For a start, he seems to be causing a stir amongst the more reformed and conservative elements of the blogosphere because he does things somewhat differently than most.

Is he a heretic?  Is he a neo-orthodox universalist who denies sola scriptura?  To be honest I think he likes to keep people guessing – it’s a ‘mystery’ thing he’s got going 🙂

Personally, I like the ‘cut of his jib’, have read all of his books and regularly listen to him on podcast.  Do I totally agree with his theology and doctrinal position?  No, probably not, but he is an excellent communicator who loves Jesus with a passion and wants other to love him as well – so that gives him airspace in my house!