Showing posts from February, 2018

kindness and grace

The other Sunday an elderly gent, a man in his eighties, came up to me after morning church and said -  “That was the kindest sermon I have heard in a very long time. Thank you.” As a review of my preaching, I will take that. There are days when I am overwhelmed by the loving-kindness of God, and if something, just something of that is slipping out of me - well, that’s a result. In our debates on sexuality, we could all do with a bit more kindness, couldn’t we?  There are so many young women and men in the world and in the Church struggling with their sexual identity, and we ought to be there offering kindness and grace. John 3:16 is a verse most of us have known since we can remember knowing any Bible at all (Billy Graham always called it the Bible in miniature), but John 3:17 always seems to me to be a key verse in these matters: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Not condemn but save.  ………

spiritual abuse: fake news?

The Evangelical Alliance in the UK has issued a paper on Spiritual Abuse, Reviewing the Discourse of Spiritual Abuse - Logical problems and Unintended Consequences . It is 18 pages long, and worth the read, but if you want a précis, the EA official press release is here , and a media response can be found on Christian Today's site. Here's the issue: is spiritual abuse a genuine thing, or is it fake news spun out by people who see a way to catch out others whom they theologically disagree with? Essentially, the EA seem to be worried that Jayne Ozanne's recent paper on the subject (and others who go with her) are a Trojan horse against conservative teaching on sexuality. Anyone who teaches "the Bible" (parentheses needed) will be in danger of being found guilty of a hate crime if Jayne has her way, says the EA. After all, there are established crimes of emotional and psychological abuse - why won't they do? Can't they be applied in a spiritual context?

a trajectory of hope

“ Slave nor free.”  It has become a commonplace to liken the change in attitude many of us seek over sexuality issues in the Church today to the change that was once achieved in the hearts and minds of nations over slavery. The Church and the wider world both once saw texts in the Bible that actually approved of slavery. Then people realised there was a bigger picture. Eyes were opened. Hearts were changed.  Can this work for gay people too? Tim Tennent from Asbury Seminary in the US (writing on the Seedbed website in 2013) is amongst those who disagree. Following William Webb's Slaves, Women & Homosexuals , he finds a story of hope within the Scriptures themselves when it comes to slavery which points towards the eventual position we now hold. For sure, he says, the Bible always had room for the dignity of the slave, but through time and into the writings of the New Testament, there was a change which paved the way for the abolitionist movements of the Eighteenth a

St Paul and Sexuality - Part 2

So I finished part one of this series with this question: if Romans 1 is not about sex, why confuse the issue? Why did St Paul have to go there at all? And why does he pick on gay sex more than straight sex anyway? In part one, we looked at the focus of Romans One being Idolatry not Immorality - that is, we did a re-think on what the Bible defines as sin. Both in the church and in the world, we get hung up on immorality - bad behaviour - and think of that as “Sin” with a capital S. But the Bible is much more concerned with our fundamental relationship (or lack of it) with God; the brokenness between us is Sin in the Scriptures, and that’s usually put down to us loving something else when we should be loving God. These things aren’t unconnected, but if we’re going to use Biblical words in a Biblical way, we need to work a bit harder. If we’re going to throw random verses at people today in order to discriminate (for whatever reason) then we need to make sure we’re not just making