I could consider that the Baptist Church at Ascot as my second, or "spiritual" home. Renamed Ascot Life Church after moving into a restaurant located at the actual racecourse in 2013, its Sunday congregation had since doubled in size, making its original building within a residential estate now too small to accommodate the main morning meeting with reasonable comfort. And helping to swell the numbers, an alliance with Royal Holloway College, an annexe or outpost of the University of London, has resulted in remarkable growth of student numbers in our midst, most likely aided by the generally warm atmosphere of fellowship among regularly-attending believers. And unlike most other churches which is normally led by a senior Pastor over a team of deacons, ours is led by four married Elders, each one of equal standing.
|We meet at the restaurant here on the right.|
We take a serious view of the Bible as the Word of God, with each author writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore with our belief that the whole book being free from error. And no doubt, all of us, including myself, have a personal desire to live out our lives in alliance to what the Bible teaches, commands, and advises. But like with all churches everywhere, it is unfortunate that perfection remains non-existent, leaving God with the only option of using those who are willing to avail themselves to him. In the Old Testament we read about how Noah had gotten himself intoxicated with alcohol due to his post-Deluge loneliness; and how Abraham lied twice about his wife Sarah to heathen kings out of fear and a lacking of faith in God's promises; how Joseph's ten brothers conspired to get rid of their father's favourite son and had brought Jacob to a life of mourning and sorrow, himself continually looking down at mud instead of up to heaven; how Moses lost his temper and forfeited his right to enter the Promised Land; how Samson slept with prostitutes; how David committed adultery and sanctioned murder; and how Solomon was a persistent womaniser.
In the New Testament, we read about how Peter, after the Resurrection, behaved hypocritically when he and Barnabas withdrew from non-Jews who sat at table with them, and how he was sternly rebuked by Paul; and how Paul himself had a mighty row with his mate Barnabas over young John Mark, who in turn was known for quitting when the assigned work had gotten too much for him; and some time later, how the apostle angrily shouted at the High Priest, an offence against a law written in Leviticus, calling him an "Whited Wall" in effect, a bloody hypocrite. Indeed, we could say that in his younger years, Paul had an anger problem, still ongoing long after his conversion.
Then the matter of the church in Corinth. This was a New Testament church, of which I have heard modern leaders wishing that we as present day churches could go back to "New Testament times". Really? First of all there was rampant fornication going on within the Corinthian church, including a case of someone sleeping with his married stepmother. Then there were at least two believers in dispute with each other, with one taking the other to Court, to try and get justice from an unbelieving, pagan magistrate. Then, what we now call the Holy Communion was abused, with some in the assembly gorging themselves while others remained hungry. Aside from minor issues on whether a man should have long hair, women to wear hats, or whether to eat good, nutritious meat that was unfortunately prepared on a pagan altar, another major issue this Greek church faced was the threat of splitting, and each of the four going in different directions. One group declared Peter as the authoritative leader, whilst another group believed that Paul was. A third were followers of Apollos, while the rest, just 25%, insisted that Jesus of Nazareth should be the only leader and head of the church. Yet I'm happy to say that all these people mentioned, both from the Old and New Testaments, were true saints through faith in God.
But the very first issue with which Paul opens his first letter must have been that of a high level of snobbery found within the church, their dependence on a high secular education and wisdom. They must have been very proud of it, and probably quite arrogant, which could have been the underlying attitude beneath all the other shortcomings they suffered as a church. As with the present, being well schooled was seen as the one aim to aspire to, and it was a marked distinction between a prosperous Greek citizen winning respect from all, and a slave, who had no rights to think for himself, and whom no one would accept his opinion with any level of seriousness. Then Paul comes along to burst their balloon, insisting that the God they now profess to worship delights in overturning the cultural table, using the unlearned to confound the wise and the educated, and to use those who are not wise, to confuse those that are.
Perhaps with a risk of boasting, by comparison with the Church in Corinth, Ascot Life Church would appear to be a model of godly virtue! We don't have the problems these early Greek saints faced. Especially on constant marital unfaithfulness, splinter groups, and disrespect for the Eucharist. But we do still see at times divorce splitting families, grit within the fellowship and - echoes from the ancients - a greater respect for the better educated. As a matter of fact, throughout my forty-plus years as a Christian believer, I don't think I recall any sermons ever preached on the first chapter of 1 Corinthians. It is as if this subject is taboo, such would rock the cultural boat within the danger of sinking. This idea of God using those who are not, to confound those who are, surely cannot be the same God as today. He could never dream of doing such a thing! It is greatly unfortunate to say here, that Ascot Life Church, among all other modern churches, had never been set free from this ancient cultural attitude, particular when taking someone's opinion seriously.
So I write as one being on the wrong end of the stick. That is, until I was given a journal on Biblical Creationism by a very good friend whom I knew since when he was a newborn, and who now holds a Ph.D. in Genetics. May I just add quickly here, that whenever he is around, I go slightly weak at the knees in admiration. Why? Because this young Doctor has high respect for who I am, and honours my opinions and my contributions, as demonstrated at our monthly home Bible study. So one evening he gave me this booklet. The rather academic and scholastic journal has published, among other articles, a Paper written by geologist Dr. John D. Matthews, explaining how adherence to the Uniformitarian concept of the geological time column has resulted in the most bizarre theories when faced with contradictory evidence. To be honest, if it wasn't so serious, these theories would be comical. Yet they are advocated by respectable men whose opinions would not only be taken seriously, but our churches would not hesitate to have preaching or testifying at the front, especially if since converted to faith in Jesus.
The Paper covers a subject known as the over-thrust, a theory put forward when stratified rock layers are found which contradict the geological time scale, the physical proof of progressive Darwinian Evolution as meant to be found in the fossil strata. That is, when an "older" rock layer is resting comfortably on a "younger" layer, such age is determined by the fossils found in these rocks, and in contradiction to the Geological time scale. As such, the "contradiction" to the accepted theories, is in this case an "upside down" sequence of strata layers which has caused academic heads to be scratched for many decades, if not centuries. Thus the over-thrust theory was developed in favour of upholding the geological time column instead of throwing the latter into the proverbial bin as an unsustainable theory. Take one example: The mountainous area of Moine in Scotland, which consist of metamorphic rock - normally perceived as the bedrock of all sedimentary strata and too old to contain any fossils - resting on non-metaphoric rock, such as fossil-bearing limestone. Geologists has come up with a theory that this phenomenon is the result of an over-thrust, when the "older" metamorphic rock was moved uphill to rest upon the "younger" non-metamorphic bedrock.
To achieve this, first the sliding plane must be so smooth as to minimise the friction between the layers. Suggestions of high pressure water or gas (known as hydrocarbons) which allows the upper layer of rock to virtually float over the underlying bedrock, therefore greatly reducing if not eliminating the friction. But even if friction is eliminated, a force so tremendous would be required to move the older rock against gravity to its present position. So, according to Dr. Matthews, something of an out-of-this-world phenomenon would have been required. So I try to visualise a roller-coaster, with a long drop before turning back upward. The car would gather speed under its own weight, the velocity and inertia would allow the car to roll uphill, when the next but lower summit would be reached before the gravitation pulling on the rear of the vehicle would stop the car.
But if there was a whole line of cars, each touching each other, then it would take far more cars on the downside slope to move those on the following uphill ramp. And to add to this, every car must be touching each other end-to-end in order for the front cars to move uphill. Now if the same illustration was to be applied to the massive metamorphic slab at the Moine, then according to Dr. Matthews, two other slabs would have been involved, with the middle slab being in a plastic-like state, and therefore pliable enough to navigate the lower bend without breaking up or to buckle between the two harder rocks on either side. However, the ratio of weight balance needed on the downward slope to move the metamorphic rock uphill to its present position would require an angled cliff up to 120 miles high! When considering that the world's highest mountain, Mt. Everest, is just over 5.4 miles high, too bad that such an enormous high precipice is no longer with us. How it has disappeared in its entirety without leaving a trace we are so far not told.
This is the end result of pushing away the truth of Scripture, the Creation, and the Flood, in favour of an argument that cannot be substantiated, yet promoted not my men like myself - from a working-class background and upbringing, whose opinions would not be taken seriously, or even ignored altogether - but from well-educated men of science whom society holds with much respect. When they pipe, we dance. When they say "Jump!" we jump. And even in such a church as ours, whose desire is to bring honour to God, and without doubt, in accordance with most if not all other churches here in the UK, what I contribute or make any expression of opinion is generally passed over. But let us not forget that the high respect given to these academics, who are often out-and-out against the truth of Scripture, Divine Creation, and Salvation through faith in the risen Christ, have put a block in the minds of many from seeing the truth, and eventually pass on into a totally unnecessary lost eternity.
Us British churches may indeed, have shaken off much what impeded the spiritual progress of the church in Corinth, but it does look as though Corinth has not fully left us.