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Showing posts from February, 2012

Scary, Vile, But Logical: On Abortion, Infanticide and Medical Ethics

In the year AD 1000, Iceland converted to Christianity. According to Njal's Saga, when the Althing accepted the conversion, Thorgeir proclaimed: ' Our first principle of law is that all Icelanders shall henceforth be Christian. We shall believe in one God -- Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We shall renounce the worship of idols. We shall no longer expose unwanted children. ' The introduction of Christianity and the end of infanticide went hand-in-hand. Now, a millennium later, the idea of infanticide sounds like something from ancient history. Well, it did; but no longer. Last week the Journal of Medical Ethics published an article entitled ' After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live? ' (by Alberto Giubilini and Francesa Minerva). Whilst the authors would prefer to avoid the term infanticide (' In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasise that the moral statu

The Eternal Purpose: The Body, The Head & The Filling

Yesterday I wrote about what the Church is for , and concluded that it's for fulfilling God's Eternal Purpose and bringing glory to Him throughout the eternal ages. Today I want to think a bit that a bit more. First of all, what's this Eternal Purpose all about anyway? The book of Ephesians teaches us a lot about God's Eternal Purpose. Eph. 3:10-11 tells us that God has an Eternal Purpose centred in Christ and His Church, which involves the Church displaying God's manifest wisdom. Eph. 2:7 teaches us that the Church will display God's grace throughout all eternity, and Eph. 3:21 tells us that the Church, through Christ, is to glorify God throughout eternity. Eph. 1:9-10 teaches us ' that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. ' Of course, this isn't all that the Bible (or even just Ephesians) teaches us about God's Eternal

Meanwhile, Elsewhere (29/2/12)

Give Up the Gimmicks, Youth Pastors  - Brian Cosby 'With all my heart, I plead with you to not be tempted with "success," professionalism, or the fading fads of our entertainment-driven culture. Rather, pursue Jesus as the all-satisfying Treasure that he is and feed his young sheep with the means God has provided.' The Kingdom of God in the Middle of Nowhere  - Trevin Wax 'But as I listened to the joyful voices of the church members, believers remaining faithful even as their way of life crumbled around them, I came to see the power of God’s kingdom in a unique way. The presence of the Lord seemed palpable in that little village church in the middle of nowhere. Somehow, serving in the place of powerlessness stirred up within me a powerful sense of hope and joy. I then felt sorry for my pastor friend. He was missing out on such a blessing!' 8 Ways to Pray in Preparing to Lead Worship  - Matt Boswell An adaptation of Mike McKinley's ' 8 Ways to

The End or the Means?

How we think about things or make use of them can vary a lot depending on the perspective we're looking from. It's often strange to see how people use the same things in different cultures for very different purposes. It makes me think of the story of Koto San and the wallpaper that talked. Koto San's grandmother, who had forbidden her granddaughter from reading the Bible, ended up becoming a Christian from having her wallpaper read to her. She couldn't read, so had used to pretty patterned paper she found to paper her walls; but the prettily-patterned paper was actually the Bible. She didn't know what it was supposed to be, and so she used it the wrong way (although, admittedly in that case, with good effect). We can be the same about the Church. Sometimes we use it the wrong way because we don't really know what it is or what it's for. And, just as in the case of Koto San's grandmother and her use of the Bible, God can, and often does, intervene

Stone and Woe

Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (John 8:59)  'As man He flees from the stones, but woe to those from whose heart of stone God flees!' - Augustine (In Johan. Tract. xliii. 18)

Meanwhile, Elsewhere (25/2/12)

Again, some reading from other places to make you think. 8 Ways to Pray During Sermon Preparation - Mike McKinley 'I knew that I should pray, that in fact I must pray, as part of getting ready to teach God’s Word. But I don’t remember getting much advice about how to pray when preparing a message. And while there’s obviously not just one helpful way to do it, here are eight brief prayers that can be used while writing a sermon ' The Vision Without Which People Perish - Jared Wilson 'But what if a leader’s good idea for church growth or success was not the vision Proverbs 29:18 had in mind? What if we aren’t free to insert anything we come up with, no matter how spiritual or “inspired by God”?' What does it really mean to be a Defender of the Faith? - Josh Cordray Josh Cordray is a fellow Apostolic blogger . He pastors the Maidstone assembly , and here he shows how apologetics isn't just something for a few Christians with special training, but som

What is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?

Filled to overflowing. This is a question of fundamental importance. Too often we talk about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit without asking what it actually is. This leads many Christians to the mistaken belief that it is merely an experience to be had. This then leads to the thought that it is something personal for the person receiving it. In order to avoid these mistaken ideas, we need to ask what the Baptism in the Holy Spirit really is. Christ Himself answered this question before His ascension. He told His disciples ‘you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now … you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth’ (Acts 1:5, 8). Likewise, He told them to ‘tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high’ (Luke 24:49). These verses show us that there is a link between the Baptism and the Holy

Meanwhile, Elsewhere

Some reading to get you thinking, from other places. Your Theological System Should Tell You How to Exegete - Kevin DeYoung DeYoung (with some help form Moises Silva) very succinctly shows why exegesis and systematic theology need to go together, demonstrating why the ' insistence on making the path between exegesis and theology a one way street is untenable and unwise .' An Open Letter to Praise Bands - James K.A. Smith ' So please receive this little missive in the spirit it is meant: as an encouragement to reflect on the practice of "leading worship." It seems to me that you are often simply co-opted into a practice without being encouraged to reflect on its rationale, its "reason why." In other words, it seems to me that you are often recruited to "lead worship" without much opportunity to pause and reflect on the nature of "worship" and what it would mean to "lead." ' Always Mardi Gras and Never Easter

"Illegal and morally wrong", or just the logical outcome of "choice"?

The Secretary of State for Health I thought the UK was shocked and appalled today. You see, I tend to get my news from one of two sources: either the Daily Telegraph (its free app or website - I don't actually buy a newspaper!) or the BBC. And this morning one story was at the top of both. As a result, I assumed it would be the main story of the day everywhere, but I've just had a look and seen that it doesn't even make the front page of the websites of the Guardian or the Independent , and the BBC has demoted it from the main news to the 'Health' section. Perhaps, as it was a Telegraph investigation, the Guardian and Independent will run it tomorrow. (Or perhaps not - the Times has it already.) So what was this story to shock and appal the kingdom? The discovery that women have been granted abortions by doctors based on the sex of the baby. ( You can read about it here in what's currently the main headline of the Telegraph's website. ) There h

Creed or Chaos

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, Creatorem caeli et terrae, et in Iesum Christum, Filium Eius unicum, Dominum nostrum Last Sunday morning we began our service in Leeds with something that I'd venture to say is a bit unusual in a Pentecostal church. It's not something unusual in itself; in fact, it's something that's done in the majority of churches in the UK every week, but just not in most Pentecostal ones. What was this strange practice? We said the Creed. Hang on now. Before anyone gets too upset with me for doing something so "unbiblical"/"Anglican" (I'm not sure which is meant as the harsher criticism), let's just clear a few things up. Firstly, the Apostles' Creed is in no way unbiblical. Rather it's role is to give a succinct summary of what the Bible teaches. And that it does rather well. That means that, far from being an unbiblical statement, the Creed is one of the most biblical things we could possibly recite.

On human rights for dolphins?! (Or the ethics of killing)

Don't get me wrong.  I like dolphins as much as the next man. Scientists and philosophers have joined together to call for a Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans. The declaration, which they'd like to see enshrined in international law, would put an end to the captivity of whales and dolphins, their use in entertainment, and guarantee their right to life. According to the BBC , those calling for the declaration 'believe dolphins and whales are sufficiently intelligent to justify the same ethical considerations as humans.' Although not human, they are arguing that whales and dolphins are so intelligent that they must be considered 'people' in the philosophical sense. The quote in the dolphin story which particularly struck me came from 'Ethics expert Prof Tom White, from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles' who said, regarding the killing of dolphins: 'A person needs to be an individual. If individuals count, then the deliberate killing of

One Iota (or Relationship vs. Doctrine?)

It's a good thing they didn't conduct the Council of Nicaea by text message. That iota would have really confused the predictive type. Theologians can sometimes get a lot of flack, for, while it's generally considered that sound doctrine is a desirable thing, in the eyes of some, theologians just seem to go a bit too far. After all, they ruin all those illustrations people love by pointing out things like the fact that the steam/water/ice analogy teaches Modalism instead of Trinitarianism. Theologians, it would seem, just want to spoil everyone's fun. And in today's social-media-ised world, perhaps the worst way of spoiling people's fun is to hamper relationships; and theologians have a knack for that. After all, we live in an age where "friendships" are made with the click of a button and the great sign of success is to be "liked". When such a light attitude is taken to relationships, it's no wonder that sound theology can be seen

Behold Our God