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All articles in March 2018

Article

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

March 2018
Articles > Comment

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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Article

March 2018
Articles > Scientific (including creation)

Did Jesus hold false beliefs?

It is becoming increasingly popular for theologians to accept the idea that Jesus, because of his human nature, erred in what he taught and believed about the Old Testament. Recently, well-known apologist William Lane Craig made some interesting comments on this issue, in response to a non-Christian’s question about Jesus’ belief in the historicity of the book Genesis. He began by stating: ‘When people ask me what unanswered questions I still have, I tell them, “I don’t know what to do with these Old Testament stories about Noah and the ark, the Tower of Babel, and so on”’ (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/should-ot-difficulties-be-an-obstacle-to-christian-belief). This is a strange statement considering...

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Historical

March 2018
Articles > Historical

George Burder, founder of the Religious Tract Society

Celebrity status is temporary. Time races on, life is congested and we soon forget. Of course, some towering figures of the past adorn our history books, but most slip down the list of must-know people and events, and are forgotten. Consequently, although we are aware of some of the greats of eighteenth century Christian history, many others are no longer etched on our memories. The great revival of the eighteenth century left behind it a glow and energy that had been unknown for centuries. One of those who kept alive the sacred flame was the very kind George Burder. He seems always to have been...

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Article

March 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Solving conflicts in the home

We have an announcement to make — today, our families and marriages are under siege. Good communication and conflict resolution are important in a healthy and edifying marriage and home life, but are they missing in ours? Marital disagreements may occur for various reasons. There can be unrealistic expectations of our spouse, or the discovery that he or she does not possess the qualities we expected of them before marriage. Since we want to see desirable traits acquired and distasteful ones eliminated, we proceed with the monumental task of ‘remaking our spouses into ideal mates’, and the conflict begins. Conflict It has been claimed that...

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Article

March 2018
Articles > Cultural and Ethical > Uncategorised

On worship as entertainment and ‘Evangelicoolism’

As one animated sitcom in America wryly pointed out, Christian rock music doesn’t make Christianity better, it just makes rock and roll worse. It’s a fair summary of pretty much anything we try to do as Christians in the name of marrying Christianity to whatever passes as ‘wicked’ or ‘wizard’ among the youth these days. Trying to make Evangelicalism cool is something of a hiding to nothing. As Dick Lucas once averred, ‘Christians are weird, so don’t be weirder than you have to be’. Given the inherent peculiarity of being a Christian, whilst we shouldn’t be stranger than the gospel inevitably makes us, it does...

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Article

March 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The pre-emptive resignation: a ‘Get out of jail free’ card?

Church leaders often ask how they should respond when a person who is being disciplined by the church resigns before the process of discipline is complete. Should they accept the resignation or continue moving toward excommunication? Suppose a man decides to leave his wife for another woman. Other members of the church ask the man to repent and return to his wife. He doesn’t. They ask again, but this time they also warn him about the possibility of excommunication. So, he resigns his membership. Case closed. He’s now immune. Or at least that’s what the adulterous man is saying. Is that correct? The case in...

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Article

March 2018
Articles > Biblical/theological

Exalted Prince and Saviour

The apostle Paul prayed that the Ephesian church would know: ‘What is the exceeding greatness of [God’s] power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come’ (1:19-21). The power that saves a soul is the same power that raised Jesus from death. Paul’s reasoning is as follows. In order to understand the ‘exceeding greatness of his...

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Article

March 2018
Articles > Scientific (including creation)

Should robots have rights?

Astonishing as it may seem, some people believe that robots should have rights. Yes, I really mean it. They think that the up-and-coming generation of ‘intelligent machines’ that will do the housework, weed the garden and politely attend to your every wish should be treated with proper respect. In May 2017, the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs issued a draft report making recommendations relating to laws that should be passed in respect of ‘intelligent machines’. In this they accept the possibility that man-made devices may, one day, become self-aware. As such, they are calling for ‘new rules which focus on how a machine can...

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Historical

March 2018
Articles > Historical

My top ten Puritan authors – Joel Beeke

Anthony Burgess (d. 1664) Recently, my favourite Puritan to read has been Anthony Burgess, vicar of Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire, from 1635 to 1662. In my opinion, he is the most underrated Puritan of all time. I once asked Iain Murray why Burgess was not included in the nineteenth-century sets of the works of the best Puritans. He responded that Burgess was the greatest glaring omission from those reprints. In 15 years (1646–1661), Burgess wrote at least a dozen books, based largely on his sermons and lectures. His writings reveal a scholarly acquaintance with Aristotle, Seneca, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther and Calvin. He made judicious use of...

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Article

March 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Same gender love

‘The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David’ (1 Samuel 18:1); ‘your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing that of a woman’ (2 Samuel 1:26). In China’s past, close female friends sometimes bound themselves to each other in friendship by means of a voluntary contract called Laotong — a contract in which they vowed to be sisters for life. These vows were often formalised and sealed with a small religious ceremony in a Chinese temple. In Chinese thought, such friendships were to last for eternity. Marriage, children, distance, illness or age would not erode the commitment of friendship each had made to...

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Bold, Somali believers

Article

March 2018
Africa > Eastern Africa > Somalia > World Mission

Bold, Somali believers

Nicole James reports from Sweden In the Scandinavian country where they are growing up, many young Somalis encounter Jesus through their classmates and friends, according to long-term OM worker Bertil, who facilitates a global network of Somali believers. ‘We see some young people who are really coming up strong in the Lord’, he declared. Her story Manaar*, a 21-year-old Somali woman, first heard about Jesus from a classmate. Wanting to know more, she read the Bible, comparing it with the Qur’an. ‘In the Qur’an there is no love. In the Bible there is the love of Christ’, she concluded. When Manaar became a believer, word quickly...

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