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10 - Amazing Grace (v)Geoffrey certainly put the sensationalism of the press to the sword yesterday with a forensic demolition of the use of statistics on Christianity in the UK. There is something terribly bogus about counting the success of Christianity in numbers – a bit like those old stories where King Alfred the Great had hundreds of Danes converted all at once; no doubt that would have looked terribly good at the next census – had they been running one; but the reality would have been little different, I guess.

I am glad he gave a cheer for younger people. Too often we, and those younger than me, get written off as being, in various ways, not what previous generations were; a practice of such long-standing that it goes back to Adam and Eve, and when you think about it, they didn’t do that well; and let us not mention Cain and Abel, shall we?

The Grace that brings us to God is a mystery. I think it was Geoffrey or Jock who mentioned in the comments box that Wesley’s hymns contain some really good theology; I find the same with John Newton’s hymn when it comes to Grace. Once we were lost, but now we are found, once we were blind, and now we see. Β It was not my will which relieved my fears , not my own will which has brought me this far and will see me home. That encapsulates Grace for me, at least as I experience it.

I feared to venture into the discussion on predestination – a wise Chatelaine knows when to hover on the edge, wondering if the chaps might like a drink or a sandwich to keep up their strength. For me it means that God sought me out when I was yet a long way off and loved me first; everything else is a response by me to those amazing phenomena.

There is no quarrelling with St Paul. If he’s the chief of sinners, fair enough, but I really do not know where that leaves the rest of us. The word ‘depravity’ frightens me. I do not feel ‘depraved’. Lacking in Christian charity and patience on occasion, yes, guilty as charged, but it would be abusing the language for me to seem to imply some great inner sin. My sin is that of Adam, and as all men fell with him, so all rise with the new Adam; and that is as far as my theology takes me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind and now can see (albeit through a glass and darkly).

It comes to me that much of the teaching which reinforces the Creeds came to me from the hymns I sang as a girl and still sing now. Perhaps that is why I dislike many modern hymns, they seem somewhat lacking in doctrinal content. I think that at Sunday School we may start to use to hymns of the day as a way of getting the children into doctrine – so thank you Geoffrey and Jock for a really good idea.