5 Questions on Christianity, Life and Books
The Latimer Trust asks Simon Vibert
1. How did you become a Christian?
I was brought up in a Liberal Anglo Catholic Church in Jersey. Whilst lots of it was boring, the choir and sung worship kept me interested enough to continue attending. I remember being very aware that God was awe-full, and a just judge, at about the age of 13. I believed I was headed for hell, and no one had every told me how to escape! In the 6th form at school I started going to the CU and think I responded to the gospel the first time I heard it - free forgiveness in Jesus seemed like the best news ever. Needless to say, I started going to a different church.
2. Who is or has been an influential person in your Christian pilgrimage?
Dick Lucas was such a key influence on me. After school I went to be "The Slave", as they were affectionately called (emancipation has now happened!), at St Helen’s Bishopsgate. I'd never of him before but he seemed to make the Bible come to life and there are certain passages - particularly in Marks Gospel - that I cannot read without hearing his distinctive voice, memorably expounding it!
Whilst I had assumed that "full time ministry" was the natural response to becoming a Christian, it was Dick who taught me to have confidence in the preached word and to let the Bible "do the talking!"
3. What piece of advice would you give young ordinands going into ordained ministry today?
I would encourage them to keep reading their bible daily and pray, in personal devotion. I would encourage them to enter into their studies and be pushed as far as they can be academically, but at the same time to always have their eye always on the ministry end of what they're studying.
Who knows what the fate is for the Church of England, but keep remembering the Gospel summons that called you to ministry in the first place, and be ready to go in uncomfortable directions if that is what He had in mind for you. It is still good advice I try to give myself!
4. Which is the best book you have read recently?
Most of my reading recently had been in Exodus, explained below! This is my favourite popular book on The Ten Commandments, by Peter Leithart. I don’t read much fiction, sadly, usually just a John Grisham on holiday! I did enjoy Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. But if I had to name the best book I have recently read, it would be A War of Loves, by David Bennett, highly commended in the currently human sexuality debate.
5. What are your working on at the moment?
I have just sent off the first draft of a commentary on Exodus. Everything I write flows from things that help me, and hopefully resource mature Christians and preachers. It has felt like a great privilege to write this commentary - surely the most important book in the bible? (well maybe I'm currently biased!)... but Exodus gives the reader confidence that God knows how to rescue His people from slavery, through the provision of a sin- bearing, substitute lamb, and preparing a people to live under His rule in a place of rest. Timeless good news!