CategoryFaith

The Other Triumphal Entry. Guess Who Rode Into Town at the Same Time as Jesus

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At church we’re preaching a series based on a book by John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg that follows the last week of Jesus’s life as told in the Gospel of Mark. I’m finding it exhilarating. Crossan and Borg are helping me see things in Mark’s story that I never realised before. I thought I’d share a few of them in a series of posts. Jesus’s last week...

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

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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

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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

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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...

Prophecies were made to be broken. Why restoration might be the last word.

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The most horrific of all Christian doctrines is the doctrine of the eternal judgement, the declaration that vast numbers of humankind will experience eternal punishment at the hands of their Creator. In its most extreme form it imagines a house of horrors in which people experience excruciating torments that never end and for which there is no hope of an end. In its milder forms it imagines those...

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...

From Trusting Politicians to Submission in Marriage. Why We Need An Adequate Doctrine of Sin

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When I was in Sunday School I was enthralled by the stories of the heroic characters of the Bible: Abraham leaving his country to go to the land God told him; Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt; David and Goliath; Esther and Mordecai; Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel; Peter walking on water with Jesus; Paul’s miraculous conversion. Then as I grew older I...

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...

A Jesus I Can Follow #2. Echo of a New World

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If you’re prone to bad dreams or have a penchant for horror movies, then you’ll relate to the Old Testament book of Daniel. It’s full of terrifying dreams, but rather than waking up at the climactic moment of terror, the dreams continue until they find a hopeful resolution. One of them in particular seems important for how Jesus framed his mission. The dream pictures four...

Easter Sunday. Why hope is better than optimism.

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Does Easter Sunday fill me with hope or optimism? I’ve just finished reading of Miroslav Volf’s A Public Faith, in which he draws upon the distinction between hope and optimism offered by German theologian Jurgen Moltmann. Hope and optimism… both have to do with positive expectation, and yet the two are very different. Optimism has to do with good things in the future that are latent...

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