In the final year of his life, the atheist novelist Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965) became terrified of dying and the possibility of judgment by a just and holy God loomed alarmingly. He had led a sordid, decadent and intensely selfish life and he craved secular comfort and consolation. In this state of fevered anguish he summoned the famous atheist philosopher Alfred Ayer to his deathbed in the south of France and pleaded: "Freddie I have led a debauched and depraved life.
Picture it. Your name is Vladimir and you are working in a Soviet chemical factory in the 1930's. Suddenly the workers stop working and they start to sing a hymn. Not to God but to ‘electricity’. They sing as follows:
Electricity can do anything. It can dispel darkness
and gloom. One push of a button and clickety-click
out comes a new man.
It was fantastic to welcome Dr. Craig Bartholomew (Director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics) to our TFN conference Why the world is failing and what we can do about it.
It was very encouraging meeting up with Piet Murre who is a Professor of Education at Driestar Christian University, Gouda in the Netherlands. I met him in 2009 in Holland. He came with another lecturer from Driestar and four students who are training to be teachers.
Oscar Ichazo (born 1931) is the Bolivian-born psychologist who first developed the spiritual resource known as the Enneagram. The Enneagram focuses on nine personality types that are arranged into a chart resembling a pentagram. Ichazo, a Sufi-inspired mystic, claims to have had out-of-body experiences since childhood.
Katie Price is an English celebrity, former model and businesswoman. She was the most successful page three girl featured in The Sun newspaper. She is notorious for her outrageous and rather tawdry lifestyle. A role model to some and an embarrassment to others, she is brutally frank about herself and asserted this in an interview: "I am a rich chav. You couldn't get any more chav than me. I'm the only person in Britain to own a bespoke pink Land Rover with crystals on it, and I love it.
Is Maradona the best footballer of all time?
Worldwide there are 200,000 worshippers of Diego who attend the church of Maradona. The faithful follow their own 'bespoke' ten commandments which urge them to 'love football above everything' and 'name your first son Diego'.
The Church of Maradona insists that you get baptised by slapping a football!
There are three ways of looking at this odd story.
Materialists will dub this 'mere superstition'.
Relativists will nod approvingly: whatever works for you.
In 2003 football hard man and actor Vinnie Jones admitted assaulting an airline passenger and drunkenly claiming he could have a flight crew "murdered for £3,000". Jones became incandescent with rage when a fellow passenger, Stephen Driscoll told him he was being "annoying", sparking a tirade of aggressive threats from the celebrity. Jones was given 80 hours community service and fined £800.
Despite this, Vinnie is a man of prayer. Surprised? In Vinnie the Autobiography, Vinnie explained his faith like this:
Summary of James Bond and the Great Commission: Creative Ways of Talking about Faith by Mark Roques, Thinking Faith Network, 2017
Why is it so easy to talk about James Bond but so hard to talk about God and Jesus? Is it possible to introduce the Christian faith to our friends and work colleagues in ways that aren’t cringeworthy and emotionally harrowing? Can we find a fresh, more imaginative and less embarrassing way of talking about the gospel? Can we rediscover boldness and confidence in our God-talk?