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Showing posts from 2013

Len Brown, Enough is Enough

If Len Brown had any integrity left, he would resign. He is a disgrace. I am all for forgiveness and restoration, and Len can have both, but that doesn’t mean he should be mayor. He can join the rest of us in the struggles of everyday life, forgiven, but paying the consequences.
First, it is old news now that he engaged in a salacious affair for two years including having sex in his office and other council contexts including the Town Hall. At that time, I thought he should resign. After all, when the story broke, he had just been voted in as mayor for the second time, and the voting public did not have this information when they voted. It rendered the vote meaningless. I personally voted for him, and I would most certainly not have had I known. I felt robbed. For me it is a matter of trust. Supposedly, and I am probably naive here, leadership is based on trust. I can never trust a man who betrayed his family in this way. The affair indicates two years of lying to his wife and famil…

Who’s Left Behind? The Rapture

A friend asked me to blog on the rapture. So here we go. Is there a case for a rapture in the NT and if so, what sort? 
It is common in popular Christian circles—e.g. ‘Left Behind’—to speak of a future secret sudden rapture of the church. This is one of the key events at the culmination of world history. This happens before the Second Coming for many. At some moment leading up to the return, usually preceding or in the middle of a time (usually seven years) of terrible human suffering (the Tribulation) under an anti-Christ, all Christians will be whisked out of the world and taken to be with Jesus. This will happen as people are going about their normal lives. This will lead to carnage such as planes and other vehicles driven by Christians crashing into each other. Christians will suddenly and literally be whisked away. All the rest of humanity will be ‘left behind’ along with Israel to face the horrendous suffering of the Tribulation, a time which will culminate with the return of Jes…

What about Divorce?

I have had a friend ask me recently about divorce. As with polygamy (below), this is rather complex. 
Beginning in Genesis, the ideal of God is heterosexual faithful loving monogamous marriage. I have already written on this (Gen 1:26–28; 2:24).  In Israel, divorce, except for extreme circumstances decided by the court, was permissible only for a husband who could divorce his wife. Instructions are given in Deut 24:1–4. When a man is displeased with his wife because of some “indecency” he writes a certificate of divorce, places it in her hand, and sends her out of the house. If she marries again and is again divorced, she is not to remarry her former husband. The Hebrew for indecency (ʿěr•wā(h)) suggests sexual infidelity. Later Rabbis debated as to whether this should be strictly interpreted purely in sexual terms (Shammai School), or more generally including such things as childlessness, religious offenses, or even the completion of household tasks such as burning bread (Hillel Schoo…

What about Polygamy?

I have been recently asked on several occasions about polygamy—marriage between a man and multiple women (polygyny) or the converse (polyandry). What is a Christian perspective?  Interestingly, the discussion is more theologically complex than that gay issue in that, whereas the homosexuality is clearly repudiated throughout the Scriptures, polygamy was practiced in Israel in OT times. As such, it is a complicated discussion. However, I think when worked through, it becomes clear that a biblically faithful Christian position would reject polygamy. The Old Testament As I have repeatedly written in terms of the gay marriage issue, Genesis 1:27–28 and 2:24 lay the foundation for Christian marriage. Gen 1:27–28 speaks of male and female as image bearers being fruitful, multiplying, and filling the earth. This applies first to Adam and Eve, one man and one woman. However, polygamy is not ruled out. Gen 2:24 is a little clearer. The writer states that a man (singular) shall leave his father (s…

Why the US Should Stay Out of Syria

First, what are the reasons that the US should go in. There seem to me to are two:  1.To send a message that use of chemical weapons cannot go by without response to warn others from doing the same. 2.President Obama stated the use of a chemical weapon was a red line, as such, the USA’s pride and honour is at stake. What would their enemies think if they don't act? 
The first could be seen as a good reason to go in. However, it depends on being certain as to who released the chemical weapon. The second seems a weak basis to act. It seems to assume that the USA is the policeman of the world. Is it? Sometimes it is better to back down. 
Reasons to not go in. It seems to me that there are many:  1.The Syrian situation is a civil war that has no relationship to the US—it is not USA’s war. Why on earth would they go in? Chemical weapons? See above. 2.The UN and even the USA’s main allies such as the UK (aside from France) are not prepared to get involved. 3.The majority of the American pe…

My 500th Blog—The surprising power of a blog

I was wandering around my blog today and noticed that this would be my 500th post. This surprised me, because I hadn’t realised I had written that much. I didn’t think I had had that much to say.

Then I noticed that tag, "Stats." I hadn’t really taken time to look at the stats before and wondered, how many people have viewed my stuff? What a shock. I learnt that as of 11.38 am today, there had been 782 page views today alone. There were 908 yesterday. Last month there were over 26,000. Overall, there have been around 305 thousand. While I am sure there are plenty out there who would have far more views, I have to say I am more than a little surprised. I read the stats to Emma and she was similarly amazed.

Now I have written a couple of books and a number of articles. Yet, I am certain that none of them have been viewed that much. It goes to show that the internet is a much more immediate and powerful tool for communication. It is far more dynamic than the published text in boo…

“My God, my God, Why have you Forsaken Me?” Did God Forsake Jesus on the Cross?

What did Jesus mean when he cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” It is common in evangelistic presentations to see this as a pivotal moment in salvation history when all the sin of humanity was loaded onto Jesus and he became the bearer of our sin, in a quasi-literal sense. As such, Jesus became abhorrent to a Holy God who is disgusted by sin, and so God turned his face away from the sin-laden Jesus. That is, he abandoned or forsook Jesus. The cross then becomes the point at which God punishedJesus for our sin.  He then died having taken the punishment we would have had from God for our sin. Traditional theology says he then descended to hell with the sin. However, God’s justice was satisfied. He then rose from the dead having overcome sin.
I believe there are problems with this construct. It is a theological interpretation of the text and moment which is flawed. When Jesus said these words that is not what he was saying. What was he doing then?
Firs…

Is the Gay Issue a Secondary Theological Issue?

It is not uncommon to hear some Christians, including some evangelicals, argue that the current gay marriage issue should not concern us much, as it is a secondary issue. As such, the outcome of the legislation and Christians conducting same sex marriages is not one of those issues we should make a big deal of. In this blog-piece I want to take this on. I believe that marriage and sexual immorality is not a secondary issue, but is primary and very much so. In fact, I would argue it lies at the heart of a Christian theology.
1. Heterosexual Marriage is Essential to a Christian View of the World The Christian story is not merely about one nation Israel and the church. It is a story of a whole world and all its people. It is a human story which begins well before Israel or the church is mentioned with Adam, Eve, and all the nations. God’s plan is for a people inhabiting his wonderfully crafted world who live out their humanness well. Marriage and heterosexual sex producing offspring is ess…

Why Get Water Baptised?

A friend of mine who is coming to know Jesus asked me the other day what he had to do to show that he is a Christian. I told him he had to do nothing, because faith saves us. Faith is that “yes” that wells in the human heart to God who is calling us. It is not something we do, but something that wells up inside and we respond to. Genuine faith of course leads to actions that spring forth from it (e.g. James 2:17; Gal 5:6; Eph 2:10); but it is the faith that saves us. We are “justified by faith” and not any works (see esp. Eph 2:8–9). That is the wonder of Christian salvation—Jesus has done it all for us, all we have to do is yield to him. When we do we are saved not by works, but by grace through faith alone.
However, while it is true that we are saved by faith alone, I suggested that baptism is the moment where we publically declare that faith to God and people. While some traditions sprinkle water for baptism, most do so by immersion—a person enters water, is immersed under it, and…

Should All Christians Speak in Tongues?

Introduction Someone asked me (again) the other day whether all Christians should speak in tongues if they are open to the gift? Or is it a gift only some Christians get? It is an important question, because if one believes all should or can speak in tongues those without the gift of tongues can feel somehow inferior. They can believe that there is something deficient in their relationship with God. On the other hand, some can take a position of spiritual superiority over others if they do speak in tongues believing that if only they are open then they will receive it. Let me add that I write this as a tongues-speaker having received the gift of tongues in my early days as a Christian. I often pray in tongues as a part of my prayer life.
Some False Ideas There are a number of false ideas about tongues held by some Christians that can quickly be put to bed. One is that the gift no longer exists and that it was only for the time of the Apostles—cessationism. This view is often held by Cla…