CategoryMy Faith Journey

If God is too pure to behold sin, how is it Jesus seemed so comfortable around sinners?

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On Sunday, 8 July 1741, in Enfield Connecticut, Jonathan Edwards delivered one of the most famous sermons of history. “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God” painted a vivid picture of the unending and unbearable torments of hell. It is said that as Edwards preached the members of the congregation were so terrified that they repeatedly interrupted with cries of “what must I do to...

A taste of resurrection

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Parkinsons brings a lot of unwelcome firsts.Recently it was the first time I had to ask someone to cut up my meal. There were three of us out for lunch. A beautiful cut of meat lingered on my plate. The steak knife was sharp. But my tremor meant all I could manage was a constant chinking of the knife against the ceramic of the plate. I concentrated every ounce of energy I could summon on making...

is God’s justice retribution or restoration? The apparently benign question that changes everything

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Over the last 25 years there have been dramatic shifts in the way I understand and frame my faith. Throughout my journey the one constant has been Jesus Christ and my devotion to following him. But I’ve realised that the classic evangelicalism I inherited has at its core two ways of framing the Jesus story:   a retributive understanding of justice and duty-based understanding of ethics...

Is Marcus Borg a Christian?

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One of the most helpful books I’ve read in recent years is a short popular work by the Jesus scholar Marcus Borg. Titled Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Borg describes his shift away from the conservative faith of his childhood to a fresh engagement with Jesus. I found myself excited by the Jesus he described: a spirit person with profound knowledge of the spiritual realm who calls...

All we have are the fingerprints of an elusive God

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Any God that is a spirit will be elusive, knowable only by her “fingerprints”. She may well act in my life and world, but I will only ever see the effects of her action, never her. When I gaze at the rich hues of the setting sun I choose to see the creative genius who called forth the laws of physics. Her fingerprints are all over it, but it is the fading sun I see, not her. When my...

Why Me?

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I sometimes get asked how I answer the ‘why me?’ question. As my my tremors increase and my movements become slower, it seems a particularly and painfully relevant question. Why me, when I have given my life to serving Christ? Why me, when there’s so much more to do? The truth is, I have never really asked the question, at least not with a sense of anguish or outrage. Lurking...

After Hellfire & Brimstone What? Regaining Confidence in the Gospel

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I grew up with a gospel built on the pillars of love, sin, fear and certainty. I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that God loved me so much he sent Jesus to die for my sins; fearful of going to hell and anxious that my friends avoid that fate; assured that people were morally decrepit and deserving of hell and; absolutely certain about what I believed. This was a potent mix that left me with a...

The Heart of the Gospel

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In 1971 the Sydney Anglicans produced a report that revolutionised my understanding of the gospel. Now out of print, Move in for Action, a report of the Commission on Evangelism, contained a chapter by Paul Barnett that examined the preaching of the gospel by Paul and Peter as recorded in the book of Acts. He showed that not once do Paul or Peter focus their “evangelistic” preaching...

Where’s Baby Jesus? A Christmas Lights Experience

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When my daughters were young, one of our favourite Christmas activities was driving around the streets looking at the Christmas lights. For our kids  the burning of those Christmas lights was the first sign that Christmas Day is approaching. Our favourite spot was a pocket of houses down the road where every house has made a special effort to create a Christmas lights spectacular. As we turned...

Losing my Religion. How I Almost Lost My Faith & Gained It Back

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During my first year of pastoral ministry I experienced a crisis of faith. I had entered theological college four years previously with the confidence of both youth – I was only twenty years old – and fundamentalism. I knew what I believed and knew it with utter certainty to be true. Theological college put paid to that. I discovered students, theologians and philosophers who saw...

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