Last week we celebrated the life and work of John Bradley, one of the godliest men I have ever met, and one for whom it has been a privilege to know and have as an interlocutor since the end of 2011 when we first began to get to know each other. Over the last two years he has been somebody who challenged and affirmed the work of this blog, and before the severity of his illness hindered the range of our discussions, he was always one of those people who took seriously the need to do accurate theology in all walks of life. There was great grace and openness to the Holy Spirit in all he said and did and to be with him and to talk with him was a source of excitement for me. He was a man of multiple competencies, caring for and providing for his family in extraordinary ways, even through the griefs that they had suffered.
One of my many tasks at the moment is to write and publish a portable theology for Christians working in the school sector. Much of it is based on the theological perspectives of Tom Wright, and in Tom’s work, both John and I found a huge amount of encouragement, light and understanding, particularly because both of us were ploughing through Paul and the Faithfulness of God. When I began the writing last May, and subsequently, John has enabled me to distill the thinking from Tom Wright and others (Dallas Willard and Miroslav Volf in particular) in a way that helped place the reality of school life in a better theological context, and to get over serious hurdles in the writing.
John always seemed to have a plan for me. He could see what was possible and what might be. From his succession of souped-up wheelchairs, on which he hared around Britain, he had a perspective of affection that few matched. For us as a school, his legacy is large, as witnessed by the number of staff, past and present, who attended his memorial. A small part of that, but which may well grow with the years, is the lovely song which he wrote and which has become the song of our school. It is a way of (invitationally) seeing God at work in and amongst his creation, both adult and child. Thus we are blessed not just because of who John was, but more richly, because of who he knew.