UPDATED 23.06.13 MESSAGE 8
This Post only contains shorter messages. There are separate articles on Eschatology which are listed on the Welcome Post above.
Richard Dawkins says religion “peddles false explanations” but he hasn’t a credible clue about what caused the Big Bang and why we are here.
Government Minister Lady Warsi says “People who do God, do good.”
Archbishop Welby says the church has the greatest opportunity since 1945 – to fill the void caused by a dwindling welfare state
In the light of eternity it isn’t enough to do good. The church must also major on prayer and proclaiming Jesus as Saviour. It often doesn’t.
Congratulations to our son Mike who has just been appointed Professor of Theology and Ministry at Durham University. He went to Cambridge to do Maths but eventually switched to the family business (theology – Patricia and I met whilst we were studying for a degree in theology). Part of his new job will be academic research and writing. But the other part is a strategic role within the Church of England (and partner churches). In co-operation with the Archbishops’ Council’s Ministry Division, he will take a lead in advising over ministerial education and formation, i.e. ordination training. Durham University has been awarded the sole contract for the Church of England Ministry Training and Validation in the UK, and Mike will lead this on behalf of the University. It will validate ministerial qualifications at certificate, diploma, degree and master’s level. He will be working with staff at theological colleges and facilitating those staff members doing higher degrees. Other denominations and international partners may also join the validation scheme. We are thrilled about this and so grateful to God for giving Mike such opportunities to serve him.
Canon Giles Fraser, writing in the Guardian, cynically wrote off the Evangelical emphasis on having a “personal relationship with Jesus.” I know that can be used as a cliché and could, in some people’s minds, turn Jesus simply into an innocuous friend. But to me it is incredibly meaningful. I want to ask Giles: “How can you love God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength without having a personal relationship with him? We might express ourselves in different ways but if we are not at least beginning to be aware of having a personal relationship with God we are not experiencing the real thing as far as Christianity is concerned. The relationship is there for the asking. Jesus is more ready to become a Friend than we are to ask him to be.
On Good Friday, as I do every day, I checked the TV programme list to see if there was anything worth recording. I didn’t find anything connected with Good Friday (except an old film about Barabbas). I found this sad and yet, somehow, meaningful. I was reminded of the words: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering…?”
Michael McCarthy, environment editor of The Independent, has written an article entitled “Man is fallen and will destroy the Earth – but at least we greens made him wait” (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/man-is-fallen-and-will-destroy-the-earth–but-at-least-we-greens-made-him-wait-8554548.html) McCarthy is not a Christian but he has come to doubt the liberal secular humanist opinion that humanity is basically benign and says our maltreatment of the environment has made him conclude: “that there is something fundamentally wrong with Homo sapiens himself. Man seems to be Earth’s problem child.” He refers to: “our terrible potential for destruction, for causing suffering to others and, indeed, now, for destroying our own home (all of which liberal secular humanism prefers not to look at). In the Christian world view, humankind is not basically benign. People are not good.” I agree with him over the environment and commend him for discovering the Fall of Man
I might write something down when I’m angry but I never convey it to other people until I have calmed down and re-examined my comments. But I’m still angry about something in today’s Guardian even eight hours later. Before continuing, let me say that I have enjoyed and valued some of the things Canon Giles Fraser writes. But today he began his article with: “I hate Jesus. Yes, you read that right. I do. I hate Jesus.” He then continued with some psycho-babble about ambivalence and contradictory feelings and a mother hating her over-demanding baby, which she also loves (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2013/mar/29/jesus-not-destroyed-by-our-hatred) .
He finished by asking: “How could Christians not hate Jesus” because he challenges them to take up their cross and follow him, which they would hate doing.
I have two comments:
It is deeply offensive for a Christian Minister to say, let alone write in a newspaper, that he hates Jesus. Nothing can justify it, including psycho-babble.
If the daunting challenge of “taking up our cross and following Jesus” causes us to hate Jesus, we haven’t even begun on the Christian path. We might waver, run away and fail but how on earth can we hate the One who loved us enough to endure infinitely worse suffering for us even if he asks us to sacrifice for him?
CURRENT AFFAIRS: ARCHBISHOP ON GAY MARRIAGE
I know and respect John Sentamu, Archbishop of York but I am disturbed at what he said in the House of Lords on Monday, namely: “What do you do with people in same-sex relationships that are committed, loving and Christian? Would you rather bless a sheep and a tree, and not them? However, that is a big question, to which we are going to come. I am afraid that now is not the moment.” If I understand him correctly, I need to say: “We can’t bless in God’s name what God doesn’t approve of.” (I am talking about same-sex sexual activity, not homosexual people).
PS 1: In my 15 years on the C of E General Synod I did a great deal of study, discussion, writing and speaking on the issue of homosexual sexual behaviour (alongside such matters as bishops denying the virgin, birth and resurrection, churches undermining the uniqueness of Jesus as the only Saviour etc.,). This included a major debate on sexuality on my private members motion in November 1987 when the synod reaffirmed by a 98% majority that fornication, adultery and ‘homosexual genital acts’ are sinful. I think I’ve said all I want to say on the morality of homosexual sexual activity and I don’t want to be involved in that particular discussion any more, not least because there are many other sins which need to be taken seriously. But I will comment on the wider issues, e.g. the effects on society of same-sex marriage, unhelpful ‘leadership’ in the church on the issue, the oppression of Christians who take an orthodox view, etc.
For those interested, my considered views on the morality of ‘homosexual genital acts’ are available at http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/biblehomosexualpractice.pdf and http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/homosexualityandthechurch.pdf. It is quite clear to me that both the Old and New Testaments teach that homosexual sexual activity is wrong. It is not just to do with procreation. After all, it is perfectly acceptable for a couple to marry if they either can’t have or decided against having children. It is to do with the same-sex aspect which the Bible teaches is fundamentally contrary to God’s order for human beings. I have heard many, many arguments and been involved in endless discussions but the arguments in favour of ‘homosexual genital acts’ are thoroughly unconvincing.
PS 2: We should love our homosexual neighbour as we should our heterosexual neighbour. That means showing the fruit of the Spirit to them and seeking to draw them to Christ. Rejection of homosexuals as people is wrong. However we cannot bless wrong behaviour. The problem with equality law is that we are not just asked to regard people as equal (which is right) but we are asked to regard certain wrong behaviour as equal to right behaviour.
PS 3: we remember that Jesus in his infinite love for EVERY human being died for their sins. We must all therefore repent of our sins, including homosexuals.