Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Forum '08

Apologies for the lengthy absence. It was caused mainly by the week of mud and Bible which we have been taught to call Forum 2008. Forum, for those of you who don't know, is the annual UCCF conference for CU leaders. Highlights from this year, along with links to other people's reflections, can be found over with Bish, who liveblogged from the conference whenever the wifi was working. For me, Forum is always a high-point, and this year was no exception. The main speakers (Cunningham, Piper, Daniels) were excellent, the atmosphere was (despite the mud) electric and the worship was a fantastic blend of old hymns and newer songs brilliantly led.

But the best part for me was that Forum '08 made me feel like I could say 'we' about evangelicals.

You see, so much in the evangelical sub-culture bugs me. Often shallow and simplistic grasp of doctrine. Often catch-phrases rather than a grasp of the truth. Often pragmatism rather than worship. Often sectarianism rather than catholicity. Often, frankly, banality. So I end up saying 'the problem with evangelicals is that they...'

But Forum makes me realise: for as long as there are labels, this is the label I want to be under and these are the people I want to stand with and for. They are my people, because they love Christ and want to serve him.

Forum didn't magic away all of the issues for me, but it helped me to remember that, whatever the faults, this is where the gospel is shining brightest in the UK today. So, we evangelicals may have all manner of issues, but we can still stand together for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.



  1. This is very lovely to read: thank you. I hear wonderful things about Forum and am led to believe the mud was good for the complexion.

    I have often been saying 'they' when I'd like to be able to say 'we'. Perhaps the key is to be more than evangelical but not less: which is not to say we add to the gospel (for then we would have no gospel at all), but that we recognise the gospel in unlikely places as well as likely ones.

  2. I tend to think that what I love about UCCF's current trajectory is that it's Protestant / Reformed (in the best non-sectarian use of the word) rather than evangelical! That is, not pragmatically but theologically driven, deep and strong on the theology of the cross and Trinity, not despising previous generations or tradition but into historical theology, not spreading projects and programmes but teaching Bible handling, etc., not side-lining church but getting a good doctrine and outworking of it - all these things are historically Protestant and give me great joy. So while Evangelicalism is Protestant, I'll bear the name; in America, it seems the 'reformed' distinguish themselves from 'evangelicalism' precisely because it lacks the things above. Hmm...

  3. Amen to all the comments here.

  4. Including, of course, Daniel's post.

  5. Thanks for comments. It occurs to me that the distinction between theology and pragmatism is probably the key one, and also the main thing that I love about UCCF: we teach doctrine, and expect that to change practice, rather than just teaching technique.

    'Reformed' tends to mean either too much or too little in the UK context, I find...