CategoryFaith

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

C

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.

R

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...

Why Christians have lost confidence in the gospel and how we can get it back.

W

It seems to me we are living at a time when many Christians have lost confidence in the gospel. We know our faith to be important to us, but we’re not so sure it’s important for others or how to share it with them. I suspect this results from four related trends. The first is the rise of pluralism. When my grandparents were young Christianity was the dominant belief system in our...

We are wanted. A beautiful thought to brighten your day

W

I recently came across this quote by the German theologian Juergen Moltmann. It is theology at its best, taking the profundity of the gospel and speaking to the depths of the human heart. Enjoy. “But the ultimate reason for our hope is not to be found at all in what we want, wish for and wait for; the ultimate reason is that we are wanted and wished for and waited for. What is it that awaits us...

My deadpan face and God’s body language (or lack thereof)

M

After a recent meeting someone pulled me aside and asked if I was angry with him. I was surprised because not only was this person someone I liked and respected, but I wasn’t the least bit angry. After reassuring him that everything was good between us, it dawned on me what had occurred. Parkinsons has a fairly dramatic affect on facial expression, so as my meds wear off there can be a...

How to Obey God But Not Do God’s Will

H

When I was a boy one of the popular hymns in my church was “Trust and Obey”. “Trust and obey” it declared, “for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Good advice, except when it is blind trust and blind obedience. The bible, it seems to me, calls us to a thoughtful trust and thoughtful obedience. Take the Hebrew midwives at the time the Israelites were enslaved in...

The parable of the flatlanders, or why apparently ridiculous things can be absolutely true

T

In the 1880s an Oxford mathematician by the name of Edwin Abbott wrote a book called Flatland. Flatland was a two-dimensional world, in which people and things could move side to side but not up or down. This was a world that resembled a sheet of paper, with its inhabitants shapes that appeared upon the surface of the paper. One day a sphere from the three-dimensional world shows up. The...

Living inside an echo chamber

L

I heard a talk last year by the managing director of the ABC, Mark Scott, in which he described the contemporary media landscape as a series of echo chambers.  With so many sources of news available to them, people simply select those that reflect back to them what they already believe. Rather than being challenged to see the world differently, they draw comfort from the fact that the world is...

Five New Year Wishes for the Church

F

1. A mature debate on same-sex marriage Within the Christian world there are a variety of principled perspectives on same-sex marriage, including diverse views within the conservative wing of the church. Yet it seems that this discussion is surrounded with hysteria. The moment anyone urges anything other than opposition to same-sex marriage they are pilloried. It is my wish for the church that we...