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Showing posts from July, 2009

Wright on Rights and Sex

"Sex and ‘rights’... someone, sooner or later, needs to spell out further (wearisome though it will be) the difference between (a) the ‘human dignity and civil liberty’ of those with homosexual and similar instincts and (b) their ‘rights’, as practising let alone ordained Christians, to give physical expression to those instincts. As the Pope has pointed out, the language of ‘human rights’ has now been downgraded in public discourse to the special pleading of every interest-group. The church has never acknowledged that powerful sexual instincts, which almost all human beings have, generate a prima facie ‘right’ that these instincts receive physical expression. Indeed, the church has always insisted that self-control is part of the ‘fruit of the Spirit’. All are called to chastity and, within that, some are called to celibacy; but a call to celibacy is not the same thing as discovering that one has a weak or negligible sexual drive. The call to the self-control of chastity is for…

What makes a good sermon

I was at a discussion the other day as to what makes a good sermon, and was not very impressed by the conclusions that most people seemed to have come to. So thought I would try and formulate my own list. please add your own in the comments...

Christ centredComing out of the study of Scripture and prayer
Connecting firmly with the listener's worldContent first, then personalityUncluttered and to the pointDevoid of pop psychology or meaningless spiritual sounding phrases
That would be my list. but I suppose a lot hinges on what you want a semon to do. I found that by expecting a sermon to be primarily educational rather than therapeutic I was in a minority. It is not that I dont believe sermons can and should be therapeutic, I just dont believe that expecting every sermon every week to be transformational for everyone is realistic or desirable. But for every week the congregation to be reminded of the truth of Christ, the testimony of scripture, and challenged to adjust their wo…

The sacraments, individuals, and community

Just reaidng 1 Corinthians 1 and was struck by verse 17:

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." (NIV)

Now the sacraments are important, communion and baptism. But in the whole of the NT (correct me if i'm wrong) they are never related to an individuals calling. The power to baptise or share communion is never presented as being a matter of calling or gifting (unlike preaching for example) but as a function of the Christian community. Paul's statement here even suggests that it is undesirable for those who do the preaching and evangelism to be the ones administering the sacrament because that might confuse the issue. People might think it had anything to do with the individual administering. The interesting thing is that you see this confusion all the time today, especially (but not limited to) those churches where only the minister is allowed to administer…

Should the church spend its energy doing social work?

There is a tension for me in that any social action must intentionally serve the gospel, that is be intended to be an avenue for people to come to saving knowledge of Christ. But I also feel Christians need to do things because they are the right thing to do, not with an ulterior motive of prosyletization. The most promising avenue for me is an articulation of conversion as the work of God, and of social action as a sign of the gospel. But how you consistently and authentically do that in practice I’m not sure.

[This was a comment I originally made on Phil's blog here, but thought it was worthy of a post of its own.]

some untested axioms

Axiom 1

Simplicity is the enemy of truth
but for truth to be understood it must be expressed in simplicity.

Axiom 2

The world is the enemy of the gospel
but for the gospel to be received it must be expressed in the world.

the power of positive thinking not so great after all

It seems that self esteem needs to be based on facts rather than wishful thinking. At least this study seems to prove that. Personally I seem to swing wildly from feeling totally useless to thinking I am the messiah (I'm not by the way- I'm a very naughty boy). But one can't help but wonder if all that self conscious introversion is healthy for anyone, whether they regard themselves highly or not. Surely instead of wondering if you are good looking, or successful, or highly regarded, it is better to rest assured that you are indeed loved by God and spend your energy trying to view others as God does, that is as lovable, instead of worrying whether or not you are. You are lovable, not because you want to be, but because God finds you so. (1 John 4:19) That fact may seem strange, but then who said life should make sense to you?

The parable of the sower

The parable of the sower is one of the easiest parables to interpret, because unlike most of them, this one comes with an explanation:

18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.…

Reading the Bible for its own sake

This is an article I wrote for the national Baptist magazine (NZ) this month. I had to write 5-700 words that were provocative but not controversial and also served to be a little personal, so people could get to know me... let me know what you think.


My two year old daughter, Charlotte, often requests songs at bedtime. Sometimes she makes up titles that she wants me to sing. If I can, I try and find a song that fits the title she has made up. Sometimes, especially with the more wacky titles, I have to improvise an original. The other night she asked to sing “pray.” Well, I know there is an MC Hammer song by that name but it isn’t really a bedtime number, and I can’t rap. But I did remember an old children’s song, “read your Bible, pray every day (repeat a few times)... if you want to grow.” Charlotte enjoyed it and has asked for it again since. Now Charlotte does pray every day but reading is a little beyond her just yet. However, singing that song has made me think abou…