Saturday, 30 March 2013

10 reasons why the Resurrection matters

1) It makes salvation possible

2) Without believing the Resurrection, you cannot be saved

3) It confirms the reliability of the New Testament

4) It gives us hope of the new life to come

5) Jesus' resurrection previews what our bodies will be like

6) The resurrection demonstrates that God the Father accepted Christ’s suffering as a full payment for sin

7) The resurrection displays the magnitude of power available to Christians in their struggle against sin 

8) The resurrection motivates us to turn away from sin 

9) The resurrection proves the reliability of Old Testament prophecy

10) The resurrection confirms that Jesus was the Son of God

There's more explanation of the 10 here BUT the take home point is that we should make sure our Easter celebrations have more to them than just eggs and feasting. Eggs and feasting are good but they should be a jewel in Christ's victorious crown over death. 

He is risen, Alleluia Alleluia

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

No lover of Christ

You are no lover of Christ if you do not love his children. As soon as ever the heart is given to the master of the house it is given to the children of the house. Love Christ and you will soon love all that love him.

C.H. Spurgeon [who I think was riffing off John 15 and 16 and 1 John 3 and 4]

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The folly of democracy

Alexander Fraser Lytler (also Lord Woodhouselee) had it right:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.
And for evidence I present you a snapshot of the British public's sympathies and their overwhelming socialist tendencies:

Friday, 22 March 2013

Best intro to an essay?

Virginia Woolf's intro to her essay On Being Ill has got to be one of the greatest opening lines in essaydom:
“Consider how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to view, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us by the act of sickness, how we go down in the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist's arm-chair and confuse his "Rinse the mouth-rinse the mouth" with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to welcome us - when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature” 
I know she was a rank pagan of the highest degree but don't you wish you could write something like that?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Do infertile couples clinch the same-sex marriage?

Nope. All infertilities are not equal. There is a crucial difference between an infertile heterosexual union and an impotent homosexual one.

Read the fuller explanation here BUT, be warned, there's some candid and forthright language therein

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Wish they still made Bishops like TK

File:The Seven Bishops Committed to the Tower in 1688 from NPG (2).jpg
The 7 Bishops committed
to the tower in 1688, among them, the
then Archbishop of Canterbury, William Sancroft.
Today the Church remembers Thomas Ken. He was an Anglican clergyman who was at one time the Bishop of Bath and Wells and more famously, author of the well-loved doxology Praise God from whom all blessings flow (which is actually the last verse of his longer hymn Awake my soul, and with the sun). He was by all accounts a man of principle and firm conviction and was one of the seven bishops who was imprisoned for refusing to sign James II's "Declaration of Indulgence" (which was meant to allow Roman Catholics to resume positions of political power in England). Later in life, he was deposed as Bishop for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the co-monarchs, William and Mary because in Ken's view it would make a mockery of an earlier oath he'd made to James II, who was still alive (even though he strongly disagreed with much that James had formerly done). If only they still made Bishops like that today, where would the Church of England be? Here is a prayer of Thomas Ken:

God, our heavenly father, make, we pray, the door of this Cathedral Church [Wells] wide enough to welcome all who need human love and fellowship and a Father’s care; but narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride, and lack of love. Here may the temped find help, the sorrowing receive comfort, the careless be awakened to repentance, and the penitent be assured of your mercy; and here may all your children renew their strength and go on their way in hope and joy; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Luther's last words: well known in heaven, on earth and in hell

Well not quite Luther's last words but almost... the line actually read: "Finally, I also ask of every man [...] that he would allow me to be the person which I in truth am, namely, a public figure, known both in heaven and on earth, as well as in hell" and was in fact one of the closing sentences of Luther's last testament and will. A reflection perhaps of the bold stance he had taken throughout his life. Luther's actual last words are purported to be:

"We are beggars. This is true."

Which apparently came about in a conversation with a friend Justus Jonas who had asked whether Luther was going to die "standing firm on Christ and the doctrine [he] had taught?" to which he replied "Yes!" and concluded "We are beggars. This is true." Here is someone who understood our total dependence on God  and the fact that apart from Christ we can do nothing and destined for destruction (John 15:5-6). Or as that great hymn of old puts it:

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Pagan challenges Piers

The dialogue below is a few days old but it's still great to see an atheist challenging a self-confessed Christian: Piers Morgan on the basics of the faith.

It reminds me of an exchange Christopher Hitchens once had with a Unitarian minister, who proclaimed that:
“I am a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example).”
To which Hitchens replied: “I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.” 
Amen, pagan!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Like adjectives not nouns, dependent not sufficient

God, writes C S Lewis, intended for us to be adjectives, but we, in our rebelliousness and pride, insisted on being nouns.  We were made to modify God, not to stand on our own in lonely defiance; to give him glory and honour, not to steal it for ourselves.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Better a sectarian traditional Pope than a squishy conservative evangelical

In electing the Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope, the Roman Catholic cardinals demonstrated their steely backbone and chests of granite, against the liberal post-modern crowd. From the little that I've read, Pope Francis is a principled theologian anchored in the conservative wing of the Catholic church. That means that he is pro-life, anti-homosexual, anti-liberation/Marxist theology and reliably conservative on every other hot-button social issue that animates the modernist fashonista of the Labour leaning, Guardian reading, muesli eating, rooibos drinking variety. As a thoroughgoing biblicist, it is comforting to know that one massive part of Christ's Church (in painful contrast to almost all major Protestant denominations) has the will to stand against the prevailing winds of pomosexual gunk that now clogs the river that is Western civilization. This is not to say that I'd ever be tempted to cross the Tiber and start fondling a rosary - not at all. Peter Leithart and Doug Wilson have given us have very good grounds for firmly remaining in the Protestant camp. However given Francis' record of promoting a culture of life (and against abortion, euthanasia, cloning and human egg harvesting), a culture of the family (and against homosexuality and all other extramarital sexual license), and a culture of liberty (and against political tyranny) I for one would be happy to count him a brother and a friend (A seriously mistaken brother in many ways but a brother nonetheless and good servant of Christ, faithfully fighting the horrendous evil that abounds in our culture today). Far better I think to be battling society's widespread immorality with a sectarian traditional Pope than with a squishy conservative evangelical. Let us pray that Francis continues to fight the good fight.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

An honest answer re the vicious God of the OT

Having previously repudiated God's wrath as barbaric and completely unworthy of a God of love, Miroslav Volf later changed his tune (partly I think given the horrible things he'd witnessed in his country of birth). Volf wrote:
Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God's wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn't wrathful at the sight of the world's evil. God isn't wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.
In other words, encountering reality can sometimes be a good corrective to faulty doctrine. It's like the comedian who once confessed to being very liberal, until he was burgled, whereupon, he found himself a supporter of capital punishment! When you think of some of the recent horrific stories in the Church (e.g. Cardinal O'Brien's confessions about inappropriate sexual behaviour) and outside it (e.g. the BBC and the Jimmy Savile debacle) you would have to be frigid soul to not want justice to be done and the perpetrators punished. When God encounters gross wickedness and perverse sinfulness, He doesn't respond by doting on the perpetrators in a grandfatherly fashion. No! God's fierce anger is kindled. As Psalm 7 says:

God is a righteous judge,
    a God who displays his wrath every day.
If he does not relent,
    he will sharpen his sword;
    he will bend and string his bow.
He has prepared his deadly weapons;
    he makes ready his flaming arrows.

Miroslav Volf is right: God isn't wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.

Friday, 8 March 2013

It's not faith but doubt that's spelt r-i-s-k

Over at Think Theology there great post by Jennie Pollock  It begins thus:

Faith,’ you’ll often hear it said, ‘is spelled R-I-S-K’. Beyond the obvious linguistic point that it isn’t spelled like that at all, however, is a deeper one - thinking of faith as synonymous with risk is dishonouring to the God we claim to have faith in

She concludes:

...the failure to trust in the promises of God - is the really risky course of action. Sarah didn’t really believe God could give Abraham a son, and in unfaith she worked to engineer things to try to fulfil the promise in her own way, with dire consequences. If Noah had not had faith in God’s seemingly-ridiculous word to him, it would have been disastrous for the whole human race. And we all know what happened to the Israelites when they failed to trust God’s ability to overcome their enemies – they spent 40 miserable years in the desert and died there when a little faith in the God who had proved himself powerful beyond their wildest dreams would have seen them safely installed in the Promised Land.

It’s not faith that is spelled R-I-S-K, it’s doubt. 

Faith is spelled O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E, H-O-P-E and J-O-Y. 

Read the whole thing here

Monday, 4 March 2013

How we age: 1-100

This is one of a series of four fabulous videos [age, birth, love and home] in which regular people are shown in an order chosen by the film-makers (The one below shows a person of every age between 1 and 100). It's joyous, artful, poignant, and often surprising.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Friday Fun: The perfect church welcome leaflet

Here's a taster:

Here at St Daphne's, we are a friendly church. Try not to be too scared by the smiles on our faces as we greet you. We're just a bit unused to visitors, and some of our members are not as socially-adept as we might be. So they are inclined to look a bit alarming when they try to break into a grin.

Please be aware when choosing your seat that certain pews are designated to their regular occupants. You will have no way of knowing which these are, but be assured that they're definitely the ones you're thinking of sitting in. But although a bit set in our ways, we are a group of very welcoming people.

Especially the vicar. She's the one you can see talking at the front during the service. Unfortunately she will have rushed into the church without really greeting you (because she was on her way in from St Ambrose's church, where she took the 8 o'clock) and she won't get much chance to talk to you on the way out, either - she's got to get over to St Swithin's for the 10.30. She has a fairly fixed expression, we know. This is because she is now so used to "showing her face" for short periods of time at so many events. Her face is more-or-less stuck in that expression where she looks vaguely friendly, but too busy actually to stop and talk. And her eyebrows don't move at all from that kind of alarmed look any more, as a result.

Read the full thing here