Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Do Not Be Afraid

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear...' 1 John 4:18a

People are steadily becoming more afraid. Recent worldwide events have increased fear levels among many of us, causing us to question and doubt our own safety. More than this it has created ever greater fear of 'the other' or 'neighbour', generating within us a suspicious gaze at those who we perceive to be not like us. As I have said before, the 'neighbour' is those we are least like, prejudiced towards and afraid if.

The onslaught in our media and the rhetoric from our government would keep us bound and gagged in fear. There is no greater way to control people than to keep them afraid, uninformed and ignorant of the truth.



Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Baptist Assembly 2015

In May I spoke at the Baptist Assembly. I was asked to address those who were being commissioned for ministry, to share with them something of what I've learned during my time in ministry.

Because I don't use notes I can't give you the word for word transcript, but below should be something along the lines of what I preached.



'This day you are being commissioned and validated in the ministry that God has called you to, prayed for and sent out as ambassadors of the Gospel, this Gospel that has been testified to through history.

And the one thing I know a little more now that I wish I knew when I started in ministry that I want to pass on to you this evening is this…

Monday, 8 June 2015

Tony Campolo and Same-Sex Marriage

Tony Campolo has released a statement regarding same-sex marriage.


In it he says, '...I have done my best to preach the Gospel, care for the poor and oppressed, and earnestly motivate others to do the same. Because of my open concern for social justice, in recent years I have been asked the same question over and over again: Are you ready to fully accept into the Church those gay Christian couples who have made a lifetime commitment to one another?'

He then goes on to say,

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Why Does Jesus Matter? Part Two

The Gospels describe Mary Magdalane (one of Jesus followers) going to the tomb in order to anoint his body with oils as was customary for Jewish burials.  However, when she gets there the large stone covering the entrance has been rolled away and the tomb is empty. After making this discovery she goes to tell the men what she has seen and they in turn go and look for themselves.

Now an empty tomb is not enough to suddenly make these scared and confused disciples who had locked themselves away behind closed doors into a bold and fearless movement declaring that Jesus is Lord.



But what did it mean to call Jesus Lord?

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Why Does Jesus Matter? Part One

I have become ever more aware recently that whilst I might talk about the Christian faith and its significance, there are probably many people who I know who are actually not sure why Christians believe Jesus to be so important not only personally but also historically.

So the next couple of posts will simply explain why Jesus matters. It will not say everything that could be said about Jesus or the Christian faith in any way, shape or form, but hopefully it will give you some kind of insight into who Jesus is and why Easter is so important. It might be that after you read these posts you then want to dig further for yourself and find out more, but for now I hope these couple of posts will, at the very least, give you something to think through.



In the Bible there are four Gospels written that narrate to us the life of Jesus. They describe the life of Jesus, from his birth in a cattle shed through to his resurrection from the dead. Each one tells us the life of Jesus from a different perspective, some borrowing from the other, some unique in their telling.  What is clear from each is that in Jesus a unique event has occurred whereby God has come to dwell among human beings as a living person.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Intolerant Intolerance

David Cameron and the Conservative government are seeking to fast track a new bill that gives them greater power to 'deal with extremism' so that the 'greatness of our nation' is preserved, that we may truly be 'one nation'.

The chilling words of Cameron echoed out last week,

'For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance

“This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values.

“Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality.

“We must say to our citizens: this is what defines us as a society.'


'British values' is a slippery phrase, ambiguous enough to mean whatever the government wants it to mean at any given time. The result, contrary to what is said above, is the continued assault on freedom of speech, attack upon dissenting acts and speech and the strangulation of democracy.

Listen to Hitler in 1933,

Monday, 18 May 2015

Yes, It Is Islamic Extremism - But Why?

'Nobody denies that a security issue exists for the West—the reality of deadly violence in western cities by a small handful of extremists, often psychotic and with criminal records, who are killing civilians in the name of some Islamic justification. Just a handful has sufficed to create a furor in the western media and psyche, non-stop. But security issues also exist for Middle Easterners—for Muslims—themselves. Let’s not forget one Arab leader’s comment to an American: “Your 9/11 is our 24/7.” In other words, the one-time horror of 9/11, and of a few subsequent lesser scale terrorist attacks in the West, mercifully do not constitute part of daily life in the West. But such lethal violence is indeed a part of the daily life across so much of the Middle East today, where death from the skies—a form of terror—from American warplanes or drones is commonplace. Or it is unleashed via the chaos of new civil wars in countries whose regimes the US overthrew.'


Apocalypse Now

Steadily withdraw funds from the public sector thus creating a strain on services and increasing public anxiety and anger over those services. Privatisation is then seen to be the only option thus opening the door for corporations to control the entire system.

Change trading laws both nationally and internationally so that said corporations can remove human rights and state law in order to continually maximise profits on almost anything - water, fuel, food, land, health - and increasing their power and influence.

Prop up dictatorial regimes through continued propagation of war and faulty foreign policy whilst all the time providing weapons and information that further destabilize regions and create ideology, radicalisation and hatred.

Through a perceived threat of 'terror' increase militarization, surveillance, laws, and further remove human rights under the propaganda of 'security'.

Remove education and replace it with tests so that people are encouraged not to think for themselves and question the System.

Raise fear levels through the threat of 'other'.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Talk about Democracy is a Joke



'There are huge efforts that do go into making people, to borrow Adam Smith's phrase, "as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be." A lot of the educational system is designed for that, if you think about it, it's designed for obedience and passivity. From childhood, a lot of it is designed to prevent people from being independent and creative. If you're independent-minded in school, you're probably going to get into trouble very early on. That's not the trait that's being preferred or cultivated. When people live through all this stuff, plus corporate propaganda, plus television, plus the press and the whole mass, the deluge of ideological distortion that goes on, they ask questions that from another point of view are completely reasonable....

...There were many different, conflicting strands of democratic theory, but the one I'm talking about held that democracy requires dissolution of private power. He said as long as there is private control over the economic system, talk about democracy is a joke. Repeating basically Adam Smith, Dewey said, Politics is the shadow that big business casts over society. He said attenuating the shadow doesn't do much. Reforms are still going to leave it tyrannical. Basically, a classical liberal view. His main point was that you can't even talk about democracy until you have democratic control of industry, commerce, banking, everything. That means control by the people who work in the institutions, and the communities.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Democracy, Democracy, Democracy

Athenian democracy emerged in the sixth century BC. Over the course of time a democratic system emerged that enabled adult males to have a fair amount of involvement in the running of the city and the election of their leaders. From here there developed the selection of leaders by lot so that hereditary power and status were not the defining influence in who was selected.

Undoubtedly Athenian democracy was not a perfect system - the exclusion of woman and slaves from the process a prime example - but we must be careful not to impose a modern mindset upon an ancient and developing form of governance.

Democracy then could be seen as a means through which the people have a voice, a say into the way communities and countries govern themselves and make decisions. It is a belief that the people as a whole will be able to determine what is best for communities as a whole ensuring the flourishing of neighbour and the common good.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

God Does Not Exist

'Consider, for instance, the recent and curious episode of the “God Helmet.” If you have not heard of it before, this was a device that for a time was believed to have the power to induce “religious” experiences in those who wore it, simply by stimulating the temporal lobes of the brain with weak magnetic field emissions. Its inventor was the cognitive neuroscientist Michael Persinger, who began studying religious mental states as early as the 1970s, and who eventually hit upon the theory that all such experiences have something to do with the structure of the bicameral brain. Perhaps, he speculated, a man who finds himself seized by a mystical sense of an unseen presence—God, an angel, an extraterrestrial, a ghost, a fairy, what have you—is merely experiencing a transient excitation of neurons that causes his brain’s left hemisphere to become indirectly aware of the distinct and usually tacit “alternate self” of the right hemisphere.' David Bentley Hart



The results of the 'God Helmet' were roundly dismissed, the effects shown to be products of their own imagination.

As Bentley Hart rightly points out, even if the 'God Helmet' had worked it would not have proven anything in terms of God as no-one in classical theism is denying the reality of how an encounter with God would indeed have an effect upon the physical reality of our brains. But this is not the emphasis of this blog post.