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Jonny, judging by what's been going on at my blog lately, I would say there are two things happening - one IS debate, and it's good and healthy; the other isn't debate but a kind of fighting of corners.

Alan and Mike have apparently done that style of thing that is really good for us every now and then - got a kind of visionary message which has woken everybody up and made everyone wonder what excactly it IS that we're doing. But as is often the case with visionary messages, there's a lot of hyperbole, inaccuracy and general fluff that needs to be blown away in the process of absorbing what it is they REALLY can tell us. (such as the whole church history thing - I totally agree with Pete on this. It's an Urban Myth what Alan has put forward, even if he does really know better himself.)Debate is absolutely necessary here: as I know myself, if you make an extravangant comment for th sake of effect, you do need other peole to pull it back into the arena of reality, although that doesn't invalidate the effect that gets the debate strated int he first place. I would say that the best thing about H&F's book and tour (and thanks again for organising it) is that they have made a lot of us talk, think and reassess what we're doing - what is good? what isn't good? And they have effectively used hyperbole and jibes and overstatements to do so. Good for them.

The other thing that's going on, though, is not debate at all, it's protecting and defending 'sides' in the Church. And ironically, I would guess from their tone that Alan and Mike really aren't very interested in taking, or gaining, 'sides'. They seem to me (and from those who have met them) to be more interested in whether our preaching of the gospel is making any difference.

Pete is (in my view) taking on the debate in a good spirit and in an informed way. (Have you met him? he has no 'side' at all in the other sense of the word.) He, like me, is bound to jump on historical and theological hyperbole; I venture to suggest that's our usefulness as academics. (I do hope academics have some usefulness...) Maybe if Hirsch, Frost, Phillips, Dawn, Baker, and anyone else who's concerned about the gospel continue to rub each others corners off, we might even end up preaching the gospel in a way that does make sense.

Anyway, all by way of saying 'well done' and thanks, and let's keep talking and thinking and working on this important stuff.
(OMIGOD, what a very long comment...)


thanks maggi - i know pete well - he's fab! i made the comment in the light of a good friendship :-)


O good ! Glad you know Pete. He preached at my Chapel the other week and is truly excellent.

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