CategoryFaith

If the Bible is so clear, why do we keep getting it so wrong?

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I recently read Mark Noll’s book, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. It was something of a shock to discover that in the mid 1800’s the majority of North American evangelicals opposed the abolition of slavery. Noll describes the crisis that the war created, Debates over Scripture and slavery, which combined passionate moral reasoning, careful attention to the particulars of exegesis, and...

The Decline of Religion in Australia.

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The census data is out and one of the headlines has been the rise of people indicating they have “no religion” and the corresponding decline in those who indicate an affiliation with Christianity. The census data, of course, only tells us about people’s nominal affiliation with a religious tradition. It doesn’t tell us much about people’s practise of religion. The...

The King, Sheep, Goats & Salvation.

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One of the most confronting parables Jesus told was his account of the sheep and goats (found in Matthew 25). The end of the age has come and humanity is gathered before Christ for judgement. Humankind is sorted into two groups: sheep, who the king claims fed him when he was hungry, gave him a drink when he was thirsty, provided hospitality when he was a stranger, clothed him when he needed...

The Difference Faith Can Make.

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Two weeks ago I attended the funeral of an old friend. I hadn’t seen Bazza for many years, but my memories were fond. I met Barry when I was the youth pastor at Caringbah Baptist Church and he starting seeing one of the women whose daughters were in the youth group. I had long had a soft spot for Lyn and her three daughters. For many years Lyn had been a single mother who knew some tough times...

When in Rome…

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I recently revisited Rodney Stark’s The Triumph of Christianity and was once more struck by the power of the early Christian movement. He describes first century Rome where, for most people, life presented serious challenges. The city was crowded. It is estimated that population density in Rome was almost three times that of modern-day Calcutta. Buildings were incredibly close to one another, and...

A Christmas without nativity scenes. Embracing my faith in a secular society

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I am holidaying with my family on The Gold Coast. We are staying in an apartment with spectacular views over the ocean. We have swum in the surf, laid on golden beaches, screamed with a mixture of fear and thrill on roller coasters at Movieworld, laughed ourselves hoarse as we share meals. We have dined and seen movies at Pacific Fair shopping centre, a massive complex that includes supermarkets...

What Vikings Teach Me About God’s Love

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I am currently watching the TV series “Vikings” and it gives me insight int o how it is that God loves human beings. The series tells the story of Ragnar Lodbrok, a Viking who initiates the first raids on England. The Vikings are mindnumbingly violent. People are slaughtered without mercy and others enslaved all in the name of ‘plunder’. Back home, violence is never far away as Vikings compete...

Christmas déjà vu. Has the whole Jesus thing been a failure?

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Reading the Christmas story in Matthew one has a sense of déjà vu. A violent regime that shows no hesitation in slaughtering innocent people for political purposes forces a family to flee for their lives. We could be describing Syria under Assad, but instead we’re describing first century Judea under King Herod. 2000 years have passed since Jesus walked the earth. The Middle East remains mired in...

Religious instruction is child abuse? Give me a break.

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It’s become a popular claim of the new atheists that teaching children religion amounts to child abuse. The latest to make this claim was Paul Ehrlich on the ABC’s Q and A program earlier this week. According to Richard Dawkins, it’s acceptable to teach children about the existence of religion, but an act of child abuse to teach them to believe the tenets of any religion or to...

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