Influences: Roots, Trunk and Branches
Page under construction.
This is a page that describes some things that have influenced me.
'Evangelical' is probably my key root. Strong points that have influenced
Some weak points of the evangelical tradition include:
- High view of the Bible as written version of God's revelation
- Emphasise the need for personal relationship with God
- Jesus Christ seen as really good news for 'salvation',
not just a religious happening
- Christ's death and resurrection are central to this
- Emphasis on need for us to tell this good news to all
- Therefore a strong emphasis on preaching, teaching
'Evangelical' means taking the Bible as God's written message;
'evangelistic' means proclaiming God's message, and in particular
that message about Jesus being being what Christians call 'Saviour'.
- Tendency to over-emphasise doctrinal belief
- Tendency to de-emphasise God's creation
- Tendency to over-emphasise preaching, especially traditional
British forms thereof
I have been influenced by various traditions that
have held that evangelism is probably the key activity for us to
get involved in. Jesus gave his first followers what has become known
as the Great Commission:
"Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching
them to observe all I have commanded you."
- and that is what gives evangelism its priority. But, as we enter
the twenty-first century, we need to give this a
While many of
the Brethren characteristics have fallen away, points from that tradition
that have influenced me include:
- Everyone in the church of equal value ("the priesthood of all
believers", rather than democracy)
- Therefore emphasis on 'lay' rather than 'ordained' (special) ministry
- Wide number and variety of people preaching, teaching, leading worship
- Small group Bible study, prayer and worship
- Informality and flexibility in worship
- We have no formal membership structure
- Baptism is largely kept for adults, for those who have made their own
'profession of faith'
- The difference between 'real' and 'nominal' Christianity (the
'true' church is a subset of the visible, organisational church)
In the Scottish Episcopal Church, and then in
Highfield Church of England in Southampton,
I value the following influences.
- Informality can slip into irreverence
- Having no formal membership means we cannot use legal means to define
who can have a say in church affairs. (But maybe that keeps us more
dependent on God himself?)
(It may be noticed that some of these points appear to conflict with others
from the Christian Brethren tradition; we hold that there is truth, of God,
Strong points that have influenced me:
- The importance of Holy Communion
- Reverence for time-honoured patterns
- Church is to serve and be part of community, not just be isolated
While the majority of the western church has always elevated the
sacred over the secular side of life and the spiritual over the
physical, there has always been a thin root that
has tried to retain a true perspective on both the secular and
the physical - interestingly that root is found in both
Calvinistic and Celtic Christianity. It has influenced me.
- The importance of being 'in love' with God (intensity of
individual relationships with the Living God)
- The efficacy of a 'second touch' that intensifies the personal
relationship with God (This is one of the results of what was known
as 'Baptism in the Holy Spirit')
- Worship-singing in which the intensity of personal relationship with
God is expressed freely
- The reality of miracles in daily life (and the expectation
Traditionally, among 'keen' Christians, prayer has been more
important than politics, and the priest has been seen as more
important than the plough-boy. This emphasis comes, not from God's
message in the Bible, but from Greek intellectualism and the dualism
that emerged from Plato. Many Christians, sadly, believe that we should
not look after the natural world because it will all perish when God
But people like Francis of Assissi discovered that God loves his
creation and that we should look after it. George Herbert, poet and
Anglican priest, spoke often of the importance of 'ordinary' chores
like sweeping a room. Booth and Shaftesbury worked hard for social
justice, because of what the Bible told them.
So, we are following this thin root as one
of our branches.
From my time at Crusaders, I have had
a strong awareness of world-wide (non-Western) Christianity, and
rejoices in the rapid growth of the non-Western church such that
there are now more Christians in the non-Western world
than in the West. Points that have influenced us include:
Because the Bible seems full of 'earthiness',
and the clear message that God loves his creation. Not just the
animals and plants, but also society, economics, etc.
- Recognition of God's work in other cultures
- Recognition of the world-wide nature of God's plan
- Seeing where being a Christian can mean life or death
- Revitalised faith and worship
- An outlook refreshingly free from dualistic thinking
- The importance of God's creation (God loves "the world", not
just human beings - John 3:16)
- God gave humankind the responsibility and joy of stewarding his
creation, in a loving way. (the 'cultural mandate' of Genesis 1,
which God has never revoked and so it is still encumbent on us)
- The scope of this mandate includes all aspects of living, including
technology, politics, education, economics, social planning, land use
planning, etc. as well as family life, private beliefs, worship, evangelism.
- God wants his people to be "salt and light" in his world.
- His kingdom thus permeates the world.
- That is how God wishes it to be.
(Some have given this the label Kingdom - meaning God's
rule and effective authroity in the affairs of humankind. But Kingdom
can mean so many other different things that we have not used it for
the title of this section.)
I am neither fundamentalist nor
liberal in outlook, but rather
evangelical - in the U.K. (Anglo-Celtic)
sense rather than the American sense. Here are some of the things
we hold dear, and which act as a kind of filter on our acceptance of
influences from our roots, and as a guide to the exploration
that is our branches.
- The centrality of God, rather than human reason, justice or whatever.
- The importance of God's creation.
- The responsibility and priviledges of humankind.
- The centrality of Jesus Christ, as 'Anointed Saviour'.
- The importance of personal salvation
and relationship with God.
- The importance of justice for all.
- The uniqueness and authority of the Bible.
- The love of God.
- The 'grace' of God (more than mercy or compassion: in 'grace'
God works hard to do good even to those who deserve only his wrath)
- The need for God to be in charge of all aspects of living, not just the
- Trust in God to act and take initiative.
- .. and many more.
Written by, and copyright of,
Last modified 16 February 1997. 8 November 1998 some links renewed. 7 February 2001.
26 September 2008 redone as my own roots, rather than as those of my church.
Number of visitors to these pages: .