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Building on the Rock

My August magazine article, which also briefly reflects my concern with some of what was said around General Synod about Jesus the Word and the word of God the Bible.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24 NIV) The artist Michaelangelo said that:
“There is no greater harm than that of time wasted.” If that’s true, then a lifetime that has been wasted is a terrible thing. It should make us fear getting to the end of our lives and looking back on a wreck of wasted time and opportunity. So how can we make sure that our lives are not wasted?

Jesus tells us a short story about wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27). It’s perhaps one of his most famous and one that children have often heard in school or in Sunday School. It’s so simple. A wise man builds a solid house by choosing a solid foundation. When the storms come, it stands up to them. The foolish man builds a weak house, on …

Conservative Evangelicals and Homosexuality - Same-Sex Attracted Non-Christians and the Church (Part 10)

A key question in this discussion is: how should the church love those who experience same-sex attraction? In the last blog, I began to look at some of the implications for the church of the Biblical view of same-sex relationships that I have outlined. In that blog I focused on the impact of the pressure of the change in society and the conflict within the church that has caused. In that conflict, the tendency seems to be to paint those who take a biblical line as harsh, unloving and homophobic. This is sad, because nothing could be further from the truth.

In thinking about how a church can be faithful to what God has said on sexuality and show love and compassion to those who experience same-sex attraction (which is also what God says!), it can help to think of people in different situations. Inevitably this will involve some generalization, but hopefully it can still be helpful. In this blog, I want to reflect on how Christians and the church should respond to non-Christians who exp…

Article IX: Of Original or Birth Sin (Part 1)

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Introduction Whatever you believe, you have to be able to explain the existence of evil or wrong in the world don't you? We all have a sort of inbuilt antenna or conscience that reacts when we see something we feel is morally wrong. It picks up those well publicized evils: Nazi Germany, the horrors of the moors murders, the vileness of some of the sex abuse cases at the moment and so on.

But it also works at a more personal level.  Our consciences prick us when we know we've done something wrong: the lie we tell, the gossip we share, the unkind thought we have. We know that evil exists within each one of us. It's something that seems to come naturally.

As a parent, I don't spend my time teaching my children to be naughty.  That came naturally enough. No, I have to spend time teaching them to be good.  You know in yourself that even when you're being “good” that behind that is a whole bunch of mixed motives.  I'm good when people are watching, because I want the…

Archbishops and False Teachers

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work. (2 John 1:9-11 NIV) So the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have invited the Bishop of Edinburgh to be a special guest next week at General Synod, which has, not surprisingly, upset many orthodox believers as it is this Bishop who proposed the motion in the Scottish Episcopal Church to change the marriage canons to allow same-sex marriages.

As a Church of England minister, one of the most difficult aspects of the Church of England is to work out how to deal with the false teachers (there are really quite a lot of them, after all!). It seems to me that John helps us out in fairly clear terms in his second letter. The false teaching in question is related to the incarnatio…

The Risen Christ - 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (Part 3)

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In part 1 of this mini-series on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 I emphasized the need to hold onto the apostolic gospel. In part 2 we saw how Paul reviews that gospel. In this final part (somewhat belated part), we look at how encourages us to trust the gospel and to trust him, the messenger of the gospel.
Trust the Gospel (vv.5-8) The gospel summarized in 1 Cor. 15:3-5 is the gospel Paul preached. He wants these Corinthian believers to know it, but he also wants them to trust it. So he lists all the people who saw the risen Jesus, ending with himself.

It’s an impressive list of multiple appearances, to multitudes of people, many of whom are still alive to ask (1 Cor. 15:5-8)

We have a list of appearances, some to individuals - Peter, Jesus’ brother James, Paul; some to groups - the twelve, the apostles and one to a large crowd of more than five hundred.

I think the point is simple. Imagine the court case. In the dock there’s a defendant accused of a set of related crimes and on multiple occa…

Church History, Prediction and Strategy

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Elections and History So apparently the election we just had in the UK was going to be like the early 80s when the left-wing Labour leader Michael Foot took on Margaret Thatcher and was duly trounced - do you remember reading that in the papers a few weeks ago? The relevant piece of history told you all you needed to know. Corbyn, who was, if anything more left wing and more generally unpopular didn’t stand a chance and Theresa May would roll him and the Labour party over.

If you didn’t notice, things didn’t quite work out like that! But it’s a powerful illustration of the dangers of using history and applying it to the present day.
Evangelicals and History Increasingly however, I see evangelicals who are (rightly in many ways) excited by church history at least possibly falling into the same trap.
For example, the state of the church is paralleled with the time before Whitefield and Wesley. There are some shocking statistics apparently about attendance at communion at St Paul’s on Ea…

Facing Tragedy and Terror

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My magazine article for July.

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He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Rev 21:4 NIV)

The UK has had a hard month. Terrorist attacks with many killed and then an horrific fire destroying a tower block with many lost. One of the most natural and common responses has been to wonder how we can live in such a broken world, with such tragedy and terror in it. The singer Katy Perry captured this after the Manchester bombing when she wrote:

'Praying for everyone at @arianagrande's show... Broken hearted for the families tonight. Broken hearted for Ari. Broken hearted for the state of this world.'
We must pray for those who have lost loved ones, for the emergency and security services and for our leaders. We must pray for our broken world.

If we’re Christians, we’ve always known it’s broken, because that’s what sin did to the world. Our experience in the UK in the last …