Well, Bishop Curry’s sermon at the Royal Wedding has certainly been provoking some reaction. If a measure of a sermon’s success is its ability to get attention and a response, job done! The reaction appears to fall into 4 main categories Continue reading
For most of my adult life, one of the most potentially contentious conversations in church life has been the question of men and women in church leadership. Women have been allowed to preach in the Methodist Church and some other denominations for a long time, they have also served as ministers/pastors in those contexts. However, it was only in the 1990s that the Church of England allowed women to be ordained into the clergy and very recently indeed that the bar was lifted on women bishops.
Generally speaking the view within independent evangelicalism has remained that eldership and public teaching roles should be restricted to men, though some churches have started to include female elders. A lot more churches would include female deacons but there are still some who see this role as male only. Continue reading
“What do we do with 1 Timothy 2:15? How does it fit with Paul’s theology?” asked one of our Union Learning Community students?
This is the verse that goes:
15 But women will be saved through childbearing,[a] assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty
It’s the kind of verse that preachers hope someone else on the teaching team will get. It’s not just something for theological students to puzzle over before sitting their exams. You will have read my recent post that picked up on the #churchtoo hashtag and one of the arguments being made is that the cover for sexual harassment and abuse in the church is provided by our theology. Therefore, the answer is to change our theology and to stop interpreting the Bible, especially verses like this so literally. Continue reading
In November 1974, the IRA detonated three bombs in Birmingham, two in pubs at the Rotunda and on New Street, one
in a bank on the Hagley Road. 21 people were killed. Six men were arrested, charged, convicted and put in prison. In 1990 they were finally released, new evidence showed that they had been wrongly convicted. They had suffered injustice. So too had the victims of the original bombing because the true culprits had not been punished.
What is your experience of justice? Some of us as parents, managers, union reps, church leaders etc have a responsibility for seeing that justice is done.
Most of us will at some point seek justice: a fair wage, a decent home to live in, an insurance claim, our immigration case. What is your experience of justice? Sadly, many people experience injustice Continue reading
Two Sundays ago, I preached on the Great Commission and said that Discipleship will mean challenging people about things they don’t want to be challenged about. I said
“Teaching people to obey Christ will mean being willing to challenge and correct. You will not always be popular. In fact, you will often be unpopular for it. You will have to say deeply uncomfortable things to people
‘No, you cannot date a non-Christian’
‘I know you will find this hard but God calls you to stay with your husband/wife through good times and bad and not give up on your marriage.’
‘You must wait until you are married before you share a bed together.’
‘What you are doing/saying is dishonest. You need to fess up and tell the truth even if it will make life awkward for you.’
‘What you just told those three people in your small group ‘in confidence for prayer’ was in fact gossip and it has to stop.’
And we could go on. Each time, you will be challenging people about difficult things. You will be concerned about the danger of legalism, that they just try to follow some rules. They will be overwhelmed thinking that it is impossible to change…”
I thought it would be useful to pick up on a couple of those statements and explain a bit more about why they are important to discipleship. As soon as we challenge believers about things like dating, sex and relationships, we are going to be accused of “laying down the Law” and if we are challenged on those things then we are going to feel like we are being subject to Legalism.
Here I want to deal with the whole question of dating and sex. Continue reading
In Matthew 19, some people ask Jesus about the circumstances in which divorce is possible. Jesus basically tells them that they’ve got it all wrong. Marriage is not a contract which you can choose to end at a given point and so they shouldn’t be looking for the get out clauses. The only reason when a divorce can come into play is when one party has committed sexual immorality. In other words, it is only when the person has been unfaithful. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul gives us a bit more expansion on that when he describes circumstances where an unbelieving partner deserts the marriage. Continue reading