CategoryFaith

When in Rome…

W

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

A

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.

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

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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...

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