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The meaning of martyrdom

Whenever I travel on the train, I have to think carefully about whether I wear my clerical collar, or whether I travel in ‘mufti’. It partly depends on what kind of meeting or event I am travelling to, but it also depends on whether I want to work quietly on the train, or am happy to spend time in conversation. If the former, then its no collar, since if I do wear a collar, I can be sure to end up in conversation. I am identified as a representative of the Church, so whatever feelings people have about church or religion are liable to be expressed to me. Thirty years ago, that would often have been respect—but times have changed.

I am sure that I was not the only cleric who felt his collar when hearing the shocking news of the murder of Fr Jacques Hamel earlier this week—for he was murdered precisely because he represented the church and Christians. Curiously, some tried to argued that he was not ‘martyred’ but was just ‘in the wrong place, at the wrong time.’ Andrew Forshew-Cain was quite right to point out the error in this:

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What is amazing about ‘Amazing Love’?

Amazing Love: Theology for Understanding Discipleship, Sexuality and Mission. Ed. by Andrew Davison. Darton, Longman & Todd: London, 2016. 144pp. £8.99 I know Andrew Davison, and had enjoyed theological conversation with him in the past. I was planning to post a review of his short book (which was sent to all members of General Synod prior […]

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Questions about the Manchester ‘blessing’

Peter Ould writes: The Sunday Times yesterday highlighted a service that took place on Saturday at St Agnes’ Church in North Reddish, Manchester. This was a service of “blessing” (as described on the church website) for the same-sex marriage of the now former vicar, Clive Larsen, one of the trustees of Changing Attitude. The piece in the […]

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Is John 17 about unity?

If I was given sixpence every time I heard someone quoted John 17.21 ‘…that they might be one…’ then I’d have a lot of change that I wouldn’t know what to do with. It is commonly suggested that, in this, Jesus’ ‘high priestly prayer’, we see his last desire expressed to his heavenly Father, and […]

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The subversive power of grace

The latest Grove Biblical text is by John Barclay, Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at the University of Durham, and is a profound exploration of the meaning of grace, following his major work from last year Paul and the Gift. John starts with a very helpful analysis of what might be called the taxonomy of grace: when […]

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Synod’s Shared Conversations

Through a mixture of rain and shine, cool breezes and muggy stillness, General Synod spent three days engaged in ‘Shared Conversations’ about the Church and sexuality, the final event in a two-year process of conversations involving representatives from dioceses meeting to do the same around the country. Feedback from previous events had been somewhat mixed, and […]

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The lost virtue of naiveté

‘Gosh, I never realised….X’. ‘Really? I knew that ages ago—it’s pretty common knowledge you know!’

I wonder if you’ve ever had that kind of conversation—at work, or church, or amongst friends or family. You have assumed that things are as they were claimed to be, or presented, but all the time ‘everybody’ ‘knew’ that that wasn’t really the truth, and you were naive to assume it was. As I reflect back, I realised that it has

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Why our leaders need good training

On today’s General Synod agenda, we were scheduled to discuss a report on ‘Nurturing and discerning senior leaders’. In the event, we ended up adding a debate on the EU Referendum and the consequences for our thinking about division in society, and the debate on leadership has been postponed (I am not entirely sure until […]

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Will we be male and female in the new creation?

In recent debates about the meaning of marriage, one area of speculation has been whether our differentiated sex identity as male and female (this is biological sex identity, not ‘gender’ as it is often called, which is about social constructions of masculine and feminine identity) will persist into the new creation. Two people in particular […]

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Journeying in grace and truth?

This weekend, General Synod are having their own ‘Share Conversations’ on sexuality as the closing event of this process in the Church. I was a bit fed up to learn that members were going to be circulated with not one but two books advocating (in some way or other) for a change in the Church’s […]

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What I learnt from a liberal catholic church

Last weekend I preached at the church where a good friend is curate, on the occasion of this person’s presiding at Communion for the first time. I am going to label this church as ‘liberal catholic’, since that is how the vicar described it when I asked him, though he did say that not all […]

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