New lenses

Returning from labours overseas, especially with limited internet access (and most of that devoted to communication with the family), means returning to Reformation21 with a somewhat fresh perspective. A survey of the material over the past couple of weeks reveals some interesting themes, and makes one wonder what a new reader of the blog might make of us.

The new reader would find Mark "Fireball" Jones employing his usual theological blitzkrieg. First comes a barrage of quotations, a sort of shock-and-awe tactic, followed by a couple of armoured hammerblows to complete the case. Those who dare to differ are given another fairly thorough firebombing of supporting quotations, leaving behind thoroughly scorched earth, and not a critic standing.

Our recent disciple must also contend with the undiluted genius of Lee "Vicar" Gatiss, demonstrating beyond a shadow of doubt that - in much the same way as the current occupant of the alleged throne of Peter might be considered part of the Roman communion, and ursine mammals are accustomed to performing their natural functions among the trees - the esteemed John Owen was a paedobaptist. Who knew?! But before one bows to these staggering acts of relentless logic, we must remember that Vicar Gatiss has rather shown his hand. He openly promises that, in good and time-honoured fashion, these are merely the deliberate misdirection of the historical illusionist who, by means of an unprecedented feat of factual prestidigitation, will prove that John Owen was not one of them, but one of us. In this case, the pledged grand reveal is that Owen was a time-serving and faithful Anglican. We await that particular display of inexactitude with some glee. As the Vicar might have said himself, "Have they not read Owen?" Speaking of which, those interested in following up this thread might be intriuged by the upcoming annual lecture of the Strict Baptist Historical Society, when the esteemed Crawford Gribben of Queen's University, Belfast, will address the gathered throng on "Owen and the Baptists." Intending attendees should make their way to Bethesda Baptist Church, Kensington Place, London W8, on Friday 20th March 2015 at 7 p.m.

Fortunately, "Rocksteady" Rick Phillips ploughs his steady furrow, wrestling with the issues of truth, justice, and often the American way, not least in tracing the daft excesses of the evangelical subculture back to their roots, and demonstrating that many of those who appear shocked by it are part of it or contributors to it. If I might briefly piggyback, something similar could be said about the horrific Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon. It is hard to push back against allegedly Christian attempts to claim this for our own when the previous years have been spent assuring us that culture is neutral, that there are no necessary divides between sacred, secular and profane, and that pretty much anything can be redeemed for Jesus if we can just find the redemptive motif. Good luck with that. Not to leave out others, Sean "Bebop" Lucas picks up the cudgel of the otherwise irreplaceable Leon "Strangely" Brown, while the Esoteric Brothers continue to mine the depths of the magisters.

It's a strange world at Reformation21. I had not thought it would be possible to so lament the long silence of Paul "Luther" Levy.

Come back from your Wartburg exile, brother ... the Reformation needs you.

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