HIS Story Revealed
In a way Christian Heritage is all about stories, so as we near the end of a busy summer season let me share some of them, past and present, to bring you up to date.
The importance of stories is implicit, of course, even in the word ‘heritage’ itself. The ideas and experiences of individuals in the past are what actually create cultural heritages. And since Christian heritage is our concern we naturally concentrate on the stories of those who gave our own culture its particular shape and ethos.
William Tyndale, for example, came to Cambridge to share the excitement surrounding Erasmus’ Greek New Testament first published in 1516. Knowing the blessing it would be to the nation if ‘every ploughboy in the country’ had access to God’s Word, he immediately approached the Bishop of London about the possibility of making a translation. But the Catholic Church in England had had enough of vernacular translations after Wycliffe’s ‘Lollard’ Bible of the late 14th century. The Constitutions of Oxford (1408) equated them with heresy and threatened those responsible with death. Instead of giving up at this point Tyndale chose the life of a refugee. Hunted from one safe-haven to another in Germany he completed the New Testament by 1526, all the while teaching himself Hebrew in order to translate the Old Testament as well. Later he had to escape to Belgium where in 1535 he was kidnapped and imprisoned. Eighteen months later, his translation still unfinished, he was burnt near Brussels. Not knowing what would happen he prayed from the stake ‘Lord, open the King of England’s eyes’. Within a few years Henry VIII had instructed a copy of the Bible to be made available in every church in the land. Tyndale’s writing and the witness of his death did transform the nation. They had become his individual ‘story’.
Even briefly summarised the drama and pathos in this is striking. It immediately fascinates those who read or hear it. But the list of similar ‘stories’ goes on and on providing us in Christian Heritage with a novel and attractive means of contacting those who visit the Round church day by day. But they are more than interesting ‘stories’ for they speak of a reality which changes history. And that, put simply, is the point of Christian Heritage - recovering the past, challenging the present, shaping the future.
But as we work daily within this metier of ‘heritage’ and ‘story’ a present story unfolds around us. Key players in this, as in previous summers, have been our interns through June and August. First to arrive were David and Sarah Illman and their 18 month old daughter, Adelaide from the States. I had met David in Montgomery Alabama years ago before his theological training. But he had wanted all that time to come to Cambridge and this summer it became possible. Shortly after that Matt Sheard arrived – a Yorkshireman to the core from ‘oodersfield’(!) not Huddersfield’ – and about to enter his final year in Medieval History and Spanish at St. Andrews University. Finally Mayowa Kuyoro joined us, a Nigerian living in England and also entering her final year but in Engineering at Warwick University.
In addition we had the privilege of Peter and Ilona Greyling who came for almost a month at their own expense. In their case, however, after all the many visits they’ve already made bringing groups to Cambridge from the States, they were able to lead daily walks as well. They are the South African couple, in fact, who have made our ‘Rekindling the Vision’ seminars possible. Living in Atlanta, Georgia, they have so far initiated four group visits to the UK since early 2007 which have included a longer stop in Cambridge to focus on the present significance of Christian heritage. Out of these I have had several invitations to do the same thing in the States and in February last I had the privilege of speaking on the Rekindling The Vision theme to a much larger audience in Atlanta. Coming up in October and November 2008 are similar events elsewhere in the States.
Another more recent development is the extension of the CH guided walks in London. Many years ago John Martin, our Cambridge CH founder (1992), encouraged several others to do the same thing in London. As a result Keith Berry, a Baptist pastor in London, has teamed up with us and the Greylings so that, amongst other things, the US groups visiting can have access to similar expertise in London.
Out of our many local ‘stories’ from the summer my favourite involves Gladys, one of our guides. At the end of one of her walks a young woman from abroad took the decisive step of believing in Christ. She had already had contact with the Cambridge International Outreach which laid a foundation for her, then hearing all the heritage stories like Tyndale’s it became her ‘right time’.
Here’s another from David Illman. He writes, ‘a middle aged gentleman from Canada was visiting the church. He had been to England many times and through our conversation told me of his constant struggle to please God. After a good half-hour of just listening I simply told him that God loves us upon the basis of the finished work of his Son’s life, death and resurrection. This was immediately liberating to him and we talked on. Then an hour later we found ourselves together at the Bookstore in the north aisle where he asked me for some quality reading material. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I directed him towards Francis Schaeffer’s ‘How Should We Then Live’. He stared at the book for about 15 seconds and then his face lit up.
He told me that a week earlier in London someone had recommended the same book to him. He was overjoyed.’ Later David had another interesting encounter with a visiting lecturer, someone who is at the top of his field in landing robots on Mars for the purpose of biological exploration. “I had an amazing conversation with this self-proclaimed atheist about the possibility of life outside of earth. After he had elaborated on the many theories of how life came to exist on earth I finally asked ‘Well, have you ever considered the God-theory?’ He said it was a possibility and this led us on to a friendly debate about whether or not moral absolutes are real. We kept going for an hour and a half well past closing time for the church!”
As for the Summer Schools they were once again of the highest calibre. The teaching at our summer schools - Introduction to Apologetics with Stefan Gustavsson and the Cambridge Summer School of Theology ‘The Doctrine of the Unity of the Bible’ with Dr. Walter Kaiser are both available now on the Christian Heritage website shop. Numbers at the latter were high. Numbers at the two apologetics courses, including also, sadly, the one for Leaders which David Robertson led, were low. We clearly need to do more work on these for next year. Pray that we may be able to find sponsors to enable the cost of the introductory course to be low enough to attract students especially and that the word will spread. But the Cambridge Scholars Network (in conjunction with the European Leadership Forum) was the best ever. It was a ‘full house’ both in numbers and quality – 16 PhD’s in all, five already studying here in Cambridge, plus others including one from Edinburgh, two Rumanians, a Slovak, a Hungarian and a Cypriot! Throughout the three weeks of courses our interns were not only learning heaps but they were helping Martin with all the practical details. They also had weekly tutorials with me. Thanks to St. Aldates in Oxford, we were once again able to have Joe Martin with us as an elder statesman and tutor throughout. He was invaluable.
Finally, however, another story is being woven in the here and now and that is the story of Christian Heritage itself, for on the 1st January 2009 we celebrate our 8th birthday. We have been frail and vulnerable from the beginning, but God has provided for us each step along the way. To recount adequately that particular story would require a book not a paragraph, but please pray for us as we rearrange our various tasks. We are bringing in new and younger blood this autumn and Martin is readjusting his work accordingly. A ‘Friends of Christian Heritage’ scheme is about to be launched which will come to you soon. The Christian Heritage Saturday School of Theology – the once a month event at Tyndale House which this term includes a survey of post-Christian European political and artistic developments with Jonathan and Adrienne Chaplin continues again starting at 9am September 13th. Next year’s subject will be ‘The Authority and Reliability of Scripture’. Please pass the word around.
And so our stories unfold – and HIS-story is revealed!
Warmest greetings as ever
(Author: Ranald Macaulay
Articles in this group
Edith Schaeffer | A Very Special Heritage
Ranald on Edith (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Why a Christian Perspective on History is Vital
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God.
Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 (Author: Peter Greyling)
Longing for 'Home' in The Hunger Games
November 2012 Article (Author: Angeline Liles)
In what sense does the Bible inform our understanding of ‘goodness’? (Author: Simon Aston)
'A Religion for Atheists?'
A critique of Alan De Botton's book, 'A Religion for Atheists' (Author: Jon Thompson)
Is our history being re-written as we speak? (Author: Kevin Moss)
Western Autumn After 'Arab Spring'?
A fascinating look at recent events in North Africa and the UK. From our annual newsletter, November 2011. (Author: Vishal Mangalwadi)
The End of the World?
It must be testimony to something that Harold Camping has, in so swift a time become a household name and face. The media have gleefully circulated images of this gentleman that entirely support everyone‘s mental picture of the archetypal fundamentalist. (Author: Kevin Moss)
The King James Bible and The Cambridge Connection
The year 1611 marked the authorisation by King James I of England to produce a new Bible in English. 2011 therefore marks the 400th anniversary of the commissioning. (Author: David Berkley)
The Pietistic Roots of Evangelicalism Today
Contemporary Evangelicalism needs to understand and deal with its pietist roots. January 2010 (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
‘By the open statement of the Truth’
Lausanne and the Polemical Imperative (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The New Atheism
The term The New Atheism is one that Christians have had to get used to in the last few years, even if the ‘new’ connected to atheism seems something of a misnomer. (Author: Ian Cooper)
Francis Schaeffer: A Mind and Heart for God ed. Bruce Little
A book review of the latest book on Schaeffer. which is our book of the month for June. (Author: Rachel Thorpe)
Staying Young Beyond Our Time?
We have long since discarded Shakespeare’s “seven ages”. Instead, we live in a capitalist system which encourages children to grow up as quickly as possible, and then tells adults to stay young for as long as possible. (Author: Rachel Thorpe)
Voting links (Author: Annie Simmonds)
'I'm being taken over': Popular music and the fear of the impersonal
Popular contemporary song lyrics reveal "The Fear" that lies at the core of our culture. (Author: Rachel Thorpe)
'Why I am not a Christian' : a Christian critique
Considering the 'sacred text' of new atheism (Author: Kevin Moss)
Year Round 2008-2009
Recovering the Past, Challenging the Present, Shaping the Future - A review of the last year. (Author: Christopher Townsend)
Don't settle for cheap alternatives
Much has been said and debated recently about the newest craze to hit cyberspace, Twitter. For the uninitiated, (Author: Dom Vincent)
The Roman Return?
The wise keep their eyes on the merits and demerits of ideas for ideas have consequences (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Our Cultured Admirers
People we would expect to be our cultured despisers turn out to be... (Author: Ian Cooper)
Christians and the Credit Crunch
Our TV screens are saturated with the latest reports of... (Author: Kevin Moss)
Belshazzar and the Crash
“Overwhelming pressures are being brought to bear on people who have no absolutes... (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Rescuing Darwin or Wrecking the Faith?
An article published in Evangelicals Now, November 2008 (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Agreeing and disagreeing with Dawkins Part 2
Ranald argues that nothing in all history surpasses the brutality of the social systems most consistently modelled upon Dawkins' own atheistic world-view – Nazism and Communism. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Divinity and Dawkins - Debating Delusions
The Dawkins Letters and Agreeing and Disagreeing with Dawkins Part 1 (Author: Ian Cooper and Ranald Macaulay)
'Education - For God's Sake!!'
A lethal virus has become an epidemic and our children are the victims (Author: Elaine Cooper and Ranald Macaulay)
Dick Keyes on intuition, imagination and knowing God. (Author: Dick Keyes, Photo: karlrpet)
What Can We Learn from Francis Schaeffer?
Ranald Macaulay reflects on the legacy of Francis Schaeffer. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Truth and Lies
words, truth, and morality (Author: Text: Ranald Macualay, Photo:A@lbi)
Democracy in Iraq?
“Democracy in Iraq? You must be joking!” says the common person today. (Author: Ranald Macaulay, Photo: Chris Christner)
As Implausible as Father Christmas?
Sola Scriptura and Expository Preaching Today (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Humans: Religious by Nature
This claim seems ridiculous to many today who have a sense of the modern secular triumph over superstition, mythology (Author: Dick Keyes)
The UK: Prosperous but Disfunctional?
We are ridiculously prosperous in the UK; (Author: Ian Cooper)
West is East and East is West
On Hinduism and Western Culture (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Wanted: Christian Satirists (GSOH Required)
On Recovering Christian Satire (Author: James Williams)
On Whose Side of the Door is the Handle?
On Whose Side of the Door is the Handle? (Author: Rob Ambler)
Jerry Springer the Opera
Ian Cooper discusses this controversial stage show. (Author: Ian Cooper)
Ideas Have Consequences: Sodom Prophesied and Revisited
The fact that we find ourselves living in Sodom should come as no surprise. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Paradigms of Tolerance: Cartoons, Compassion and the Cross
Amid the oceans of ink and hours of air-time devoted to the recent ‘cartoons scandal’ (Author: Chris Watkin)
The Dangers of Thin Religion
Francis Schaeffer used to say that what was needed in our time was both revival and reformation. (Author: Dick Keyes)
Religion - A peripheral Issue?
Religion - A peripheral Issue? (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Heaven Knows How We'll Rekindle Our Religion
Heaven Knows How We'll Rekindle Our Religion (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The Battle of Ideas
The Battle of Ideas (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The Real Disaster
The Real Disaster (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The Consequences of Ideas
Yesterday’s paper (1st Dec 2004) carried two fascinating sex-related news items. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Francis Crick (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Constantine to Charlemagne
Constantine to Charlemagne (Author: Ian Barrs)
Dostoyevsky's 'The Idiot'
Dostoyevsky's 'The Idiot' (Author: Rob Ambler)
The Secular Context and the Christian Worldview
The Secular Context and the Christian Worldview (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Apologetic Communities (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Evil and Suffering
Evil and Suffering (Author: Jerram Barrs)
Biblical and Cultural Hermeneutics - Christianity and Culture
Biblical and Cultural Hermeneutics - Christianity and Culture (Author: Jerram Barrs)
Epistemology - Philosophy of Knowledge
Epistemology - Philosophy of Knowledge (Author: Jerram Barrs)
Idolatry (Author: Jerram Barrs)
Horatio Nelson (Author: Ranald Macaulay)