Thursday, April 26, 2007

Book Review - "Not Me, Lord" by Max Ramsay

Time for a break from blogging about Israel, though I've got plenty more to say... Time to review a few books I've read recently.

This one was very generously given to me by a well-meaning relative. It's a really interesting read, and as with most interesting reads, it raises a lot of questions.

It's an autobiographical account of the author's time training for the Anglican Ordained ministry, having previously taught science (oh, that's like me!). It is pretty much there that the similarity ends.

While I'm sure that the author was a very good science teacher, he seems to have understood science to say that miracles can't happen, which is a very naive mistake. What science observes, of course, is that miracles do not usually happen, which is actually part of the point of miracles. They wouldn't be miracles if they were part of the normally observed process by which the universe works, and Jesus wouldn't have been able to do them if he was just a normal bloke.

He also somehow seems to have been selected for ordination training without any experience of leading churches, of preaching or anything like that, or indeed without being sure whether he was a Christian. He then went to one of the more liberal colleges in the Church of England, which seems to have affirmed him in his belief that he didn't need to believe much to be a vicar.

Which rather raises an issue about selection for ordination training. I know my process wasn't easy, but I think it was sensible. I was expected to do quite a bit of Bible teaching and leadership in my home church, both up front and in small groups, to ascertain whether I was gifted / capable at that sort of thing. The official selection process beyond the local level didn't really seem to investigate that much, but for me my sense of calling was strongly tied up with other people telling me I was gifted.

Here's Paul's list of criteria for church leaders:

  • above reproach, respectable, good reputation with outsiders
  • the husband of but one wife, must manage his own family well
  • temperate, self-controlled, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome
  • hospitable
  • able to teach
  • not a lover of money
  • not a recent convert

(from 1 Timothy 3, NIV)

Which rather raises the question - why don't the C of E use those as their selection criteria?

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