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All articles in category Comment

June 2018
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COMMENT: Millennials are failing the church

A recent press release landed in my inbox suggesting that churches were failing millennials. On the contrary, I believe millennials are failing churches. For those of you who don’t know, ‘millennials’ are young people reaching adulthood in the early 21st century. Research for the Church of England says this group is the ‘hardest to reach’. The picture may or may not be different in independent evangelical churches. Premier, a media company with various Christian radio stations, has announced that 52 per cent of its audience is made up of millennials. Justin Brierley, one of Premier’s presenters, says millennials tune in to his programme because they...

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May 2018
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COMMENT: The right priorities

Only divine wisdom could have enabled the apostle Paul to handle a church like Corinth. And today we need biblical wisdom to avoid the sort of errors prevalent at Corinth. Things were bad in Corinthian culture — in Roman society ‘to Corinthianise oneself’ meant to abandon yourself to unbridled immorality. And things were bad inside the church; Paul’s two letters to the Corinthians reveal how much was at stake. But perhaps that church’s biggest problem was how it viewed itself — as actually in pretty good shape, and considerably wiser than the others! It is this flawed self-knowledge that accounts for Paul’s irony about the...

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April 2018
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COMMENT: A dangerous new buzz phrase

‘Spiritual abuse’ is a new buzz phrase that is gaining momentum, and I believe it is a dangerous idea. It will become another stick to hit evangelicals with. I first came across this phrase when I heard about the case of Timothy Davis, an Anglican clergyman who was convicted by a church tribunal for the ‘spiritual abuse’ of a teenager in his congregation. Specific case In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, the tribunal held that Rev. Davis had acted inappropriately by, among other things, holding one-to-one Bible studies with the youth over a period of 18 months. Did Rev....

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March 2018
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COMMENT: Drifting back to the Test Acts

We are drifting back to the era of the Test Acts. For those who don’t know, the Test Acts were a series of laws which set a religious test on holding public office. In effect, nonconformists and others were banned from a number of roles in society — simply because they were not Anglicans. Unless you were taking communion in the Church of England, you were deemed unfit for public employment. Also, you could not be enrolled at Oxford University and you could not graduate from Cambridge. Similar laws applied in Scotland and Ireland. Unless you subscribed to the beliefs of those in power, you...

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February 2018
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Intolerance in science

Well known evolutionist Professor Richard Dawkins once stated: ‘One thing all real scientists agree upon is the fact of evolution itself. It is a fact that we are cousins of gorillas, kangaroos, starfish and bacteria. Evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun’ (Natural History, November 2005). Following the evidence He is quite mistaken. Thousands of real scientists around the world either reject evolution or have serious questions about it. However, those who dare to express this publicly often face ridicule or verbal abuse, and in some cases the loss of jobs and careers. There is a high degree of intolerance...

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January 2018
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Something easily overlooked

Last year — 500 years on since the Reformation — was one of joyful commemoration, focusing on the exhilarating truths of the gospel. Scottish Reformer and martyr Patrick Hamilton, explained in his little treatise, Patrick’s Places, why the gospel is such a glad herald: ‘The [moral] law saith: “Pay thy debt. Thou art a sinner desperate. And thou shalt die”. The gospel saith: “Christ hath paid it. Thy sins are forgiven thee. Be of good comfort, thou shalt be saved”. ‘The law saith: “Make amends for thy sin. The Father of heaven is wroth with thee. Where is thy righteousness, goodness, and satisfaction? Thou art...

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December 2017
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The Royal Speech

More than eight million people in the UK watched the Queen’s message on Christmas day last year. Millions more throughout the Commonwealth saw her, some in different time zones many hours before our 3 o’clock slot. Always eagerly anticipated, the Queen’s message has a certain predictability about it. She reflects on the world scene, shares some family moments and commends those who sacrificially serve. She anchors all she says in the first Christmas, when God came into our world in the person of Jesus, born in Bethlehem and destined to die to ‘save his people from their sins’. 1939 Christmas message The tradition of our...

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October 2017
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Reformation 500

It is exactly 500 years since 31 October 1517, the day when Martin Luther placarded 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg. This seemingly obscure event was arguably the flame that lit the touchpaper and the beginning of the sixteenth century Reformation. Luther’s theses went viral in Germany and Switzerland. There followed a storm of protest against the mediaeval Catholic church as their contents were digested. A year later Luther was cited in Rome for heresy. What was the furore all about? And are its issues still relevant today? In a word, yes, the issues are still absolutely vital. At the...

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August 2017
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Fear and persecution

One of the signs of the end times, as predicted in Scripture, is the rise of fear within human hearts and the persecution of the Lord’s people. This is nothing new. We cannot overstate the warning given to the early New Testament church of such tribulation and suffering. Take the words of our Saviour: ‘But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time … with persecutions…’ Or the comfort given by the apostle Peter to the early church, ‘If ye suffer for righteousness sake … be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled’ (Mark 10:30; 1 Peter 3:14). Revelation We cannot only add...

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July 2017
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Bad news or good news?

Sometimes the news confronting evangelicals seems particularly bad, even appalling. Regular readers may have felt that way when reading, in last month’s Evangelical Times, the article entitled ‘Shocking disclosures for Christian churches’ (p.11). This article named names and reported on some serious sins and failings committed by previously respected Christians in leadership roles. In part, the motive for publishing it was a commitment to ET’s own ‘code of conduct’ (https://www.evangelical-times.org/about-et/code-of-conduct). This code aims, among other things, to ‘resist threats, inducements or bias to influence, distort or suppress information’ (the prevalent temptation to sweep, in some unethical way, the serious sins of evangelicals under the carpet...

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June 2017
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Make it simpler?

Sometimes people urge preachers to make their preaching and Bible teaching simpler. Those who ask for this simplicity mean well. They think that, because our age is visually orientated and biblically illiterate, it will not readily grasp intricate biblical ideas and themes. They rightly want the gospel to be accessible. But is their analysis correct? While there is always a market for simple and undemanding ideas of all sorts, it is surely undeniable that most people are far more insightful about issues than they are given credit for? The complexities of political argument; the twisted plots of crime thrillers; the tangled affairs of celebrities filling...

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May 2017
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Scripture truth harmonises

Scripture truth hangs together; displace a part of it and you distort the whole. Treating Genesis 1-3 as allegory rather than history not only undermines the doctrine of special creation but the gospel itself. Christ could only be a real ‘second Adam’ if the federal headship of the first Adam was historically true (Romans 5:12-21). While many evangelicals stand for special creation — which is good — not a few have embraced some erroneous elements. They reject theistic evolution and death before Adam’s Fall; they rightly insist on a ‘young Adam’ and a ‘young Fall’ (thousands of years), but still wrongly talk of an ‘old...

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