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All articles in category Guest column

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December 2018
Articles > Guest column

Healthy Christianity

Christianity is to affect the whole of life, and one of the great dangers Christians face is that of imbalance. They must always be on the lookout not to overemphasise some things and underemphasise others. Church history teaches us that imbalances not corrected can lead Christians away from the faith altogether. If Christianity is predominantly in our heads (intellectual understanding of the faith), with little emphasis on the heart (what we experience and feel) or hands (how we live from day to day), then we are in danger of a dry or dead orthodoxy. Balance If we overemphasise experience and feeling, it can lead to...

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November 2018
Articles > Guest column

The means of grace (3)

When you are weak in your faith, where do you go for strength? When you are discouraged, what are your sources of encouragement? When you doubt, struggle and need God’s help, when and where and how do you find it? Our world, and even the church, offers many and varied solutions to our problems: self-help therapy; entertainment; mindfulness; family and friends; Charismatic experiences. We could go on. Some of these may help, yet many either offer only a sticking plaster to our deeply felt problems, or are just so un-biblical as to be dangerous. The triune God has clearly given us the ‘means’ by which...

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October 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: The means of grace (2): baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Have you met with God recently? Did you enjoy his presence and bask in his glory? Was your faith strengthened as Christ himself ministered to your needs? Would you even know where to go to find these things? Or perhaps you have given up looking for that elusive experience of God that evangelical Christianity so craves?  Maybe that sensational personal encounter with Christ, so prized in many church circles today, is something you despair of ever having? The reality is that God continues to speak to us, and Christ can easily be found and experienced. The problem is that we are looking for him in...

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August 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: A wide open door

In the two previous Guest Columns, I extended C. H. Spurgeon’s famous caged-lion allegory by suggesting that freeing the lion (the Bible) to defend itself involves three steps. We must: (1) find the key to the cage door (adopt a biblical doctrine of Scripture); (2) lubricate the door hinges (employ biblical apologetics and argumentation, as did Christ and his apostles); and (3) open the door wide enough for the lion to get out. The problem with lions is that you can’t let them out of a cage paw-by-paw. It has to be the whole lion or nothing. Opening the door just a little won’t work....

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July 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: Oiling the hinges of the lion’s cage

C. H. Spurgeon famously likened the Bible to a caged lion. To defend it, he said, all we need to do is let it out. But this requires us to open the cage door, and that is no trivial task. Last month (extending Spurgeon’s allegory) I suggested that to open the door involves three steps; (1) we must find the key; (2) we must oil the hinges; and (3) we must open the door wide enough for the lion to get out. In the first Guest Column we saw that the key is the Bible’s own doctrine of Scripture, namely, that ‘all scripture is breathed...

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June 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: Spurgeon and the caged lion

Asked how he would defend the Bible, C. H. Spurgeon famously likened it to a caged lion. He declared: ‘Open the door and let the lion out; he will take care of himself … He no sooner goes forth in his strength than his assailants flee. The way to meet infidelity is to spread the Bible. The answer to every objection against the Bible is the Bible’ (at British and Foreign Bible Society meeting, 5 May 1875). Let me say immediately that I agree totally with the great preacher, but his wisdom is misapplied if we respond with passive inaction when the Bible comes under...

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May 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: A Christ-centred pastor

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a man who went at all of life full-on. He laughed and cried much; he read avidly and felt deeply; he was a zealously industrious worker and a sociable lover of play and beauty. Christ and the Bible Spurgeon was soaked in scripture. You can pick almost any sermon — and most of his letters — to prove the point: scriptural images, idioms, and references crowd Spurgeon’s every paragraph and seemed to spill out of him in an entirely natural and unforced way. It was really the natural consequence of having the highest and warmest view of the Bible. For Spurgeon,...

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April 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: A man full of life

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a man who went at all of life full-on. He laughed and cried much; he read avidly and felt deeply; he was a zealously industrious worker and a sociable lover of play and beauty. He was, in other words, a man who embodied the truth that to be in Christ means to be made ever more roundly human, more fully alive. Mr Great Heart It takes no great insight to see that Spurgeon in his ministry was a big-hearted man of deep affections. His printed sermons and lectures still throb with passion. At times the emotional freight of his sermon would...

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March 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: Spurgeon’s fainting fits

It comes as a surprise to some that Charles Spurgeon had a lifelong battle with depression. His reputation as a famed and powerful preacher, his cheery wit, and his sheer manliness might lead us to imagine there could never be a chink in his Victorian Englishman’s armour. It shouldn’t be a surprise, of course: life in a fallen world must mean distress, and Spurgeon’s life was indeed full of physical and mental pain. Aged 22, as pastor of a large church and with twin babies at home to look after, he was preaching to thousands in the Surrey Gardens Music Hall when pranksters yelled ‘Fire!’...

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Article

February 2018
Articles > Guest column

Benjamin Morgan Palmer

In writing about Christians and slavery (Guest column, ET January 2018), I suggested that men and women from an earlier era were, like us, people of their time. Therefore, cultural and social factors affected their view of many things, including slavery. So, we should not judge them by 21st century standards. Some were eminently godly Christians, even though they defended slavery. We can understand why some today find that hard to accept, since slavery is wrong and the slave trade wicked in the extreme. In an attempt to explain this apparent contradiction, I offer this brief sketch of one such man, Benjamin Morgan Palmer. Pastor...

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December 2017
Articles > Guest column

Christians and slavery

Evangelicals rightly celebrate William Wilberforce. His Christian beliefs motivated his historic effort to secure the abolition of the slave trade, in the British empire, in 1807 (see ET, December 2017). What we don’t talk about so much is how a number of godly Christian leaders, particularly in the Southern USA in the nineteenth century, supported slavery either directly or indirectly. It is perhaps even more painful to admit that, for a time in the eighteenth century, George Whitefield owned slaves. Blind spots How could godly Christians accept slavery? Some people unfamiliar with Whitefield or American Christian leaders of the Southern states — men like Benjamin...

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December 2017
Articles > Guest column

William Wilberforce and the abolition of the slave trade

This month marks the end of Kingston upon Hull’s year as the UK’s City of Culture. One part of Hull’s celebrations has been remembering William Wilberforce, ‘the friend of humanity’ and Hull’s ‘most illustrious son’. Wilberforce’s untiring efforts to abolish the slave trade were rewarded with that famous Act of Parliament of 1807, an event which historian G. M. Trevelyan called ‘one of the turning events in the history of the world’. William Wilberforce was born in Hull on 24 August 1759. He dedicated his life, to a great extent, to the abolition of the slave trade and ultimately of slavery itself. He said, ‘I...

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