The rain hasn't been the only thing that has descended on
Cheltenham Racecourse this weekend. The crowds began arriving
yesterday for the start of the 39th Greenbelt Festival.
On Friday, the Revd Dave Tomlinson (
Features), author of The Post-Evangelical, kicked
the talks programme off in the Jerusalem venue with a talk based on
his new book, How to be a Bad Christian - and a Better Human
The term "Christian" is better thought of as a verb than a noun,
he said. "A way of life rather than a badge to wear." Jesus never
called on people to believe particular things; he invited people to
Speaking on the Power of Delusion, on Friday evening, the
Revd Tony Campolo, a US minister and speaker, laid down a challenge
of his own to his audience and the Church, to speak with authority,
Jesus gave up his divine power because love and power are in an
inverse relationship, he argued: the more you love someone, the
more you have to give up any use of power over them. The Church
must live out the Christian life, then speak with the authority
that gives, he said, rather than coercing politicians with the
power of a bloc religious vote.
On the main stage, on Friday evening, veteran Canadian
singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn (left) (
Cover story) turned the arena into his living room.
It was remarkable to see one man and an electric-acoustic guitar
fill the space with such confidence. But then Cockburn is very much
at home at Greenbelt, having played here on and off since 1987.
Church Times columnist
Canon Giles Fraser (below) drew a large crowd to
Jerusalem on Saturday morning, for a talk on economic growth. Canon Fraser
reflected on the causes of the financial crisis, and the reasons
for the Church's "lame response", which had too often been
"bland" or "colourful", and "not. . . rooted in a knowledge of the
At a time when the Church of England is tiptoeing round the
question of women's leadership, the Revd Dr Kate Coleman strode
into the debate, on Saturday morning.
A leader in her own right, with over 20 years' experience of
pastoral responsibility (she is also chairs of the Evangelical
Alliance Council), she talked of her own experience as a black woman
trying to establish herself in a male-dominated Christian world.
Her closing challenge was to: "Discover your calling and get on
with the job".
Professor Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch gave, in just 30 minutes, an
admirably concise summation of his 1000-plus page book, and
multi-part BBC TV series on the history of Christianity. He said
that, just as the Bible could not be described as a book, but was
more of a library, so Christianity could not be considered as a
Christianity can only live on if it "remains a questioning
faith," he said. "A sentence with a question, means there has to be
another sentence. With a full stop, there is no more. It means
Church Times is putting together a special 12-page
Greenbelt Supplement, which will be available free of charge with
the next issue.
Talks are available to preview and to buy at the Greenbelt website.
There is an exclusive Greenbelt offer at the gbooks store, being
run by Church House Bookshop. Spend £25 at gbooks and get a free
13-week subscription to Church Times or 5 issues of Third
Way. Or, subscribe for 13 issues of Church
Times, or 5 issues of Third Way, and get
£5 to spend in gbooks.