Blog Menu

Welcome—thanks for visiting my blog!

I hope you find material here to enrich, resource and inspire you as you learn and grow in your own discipleship and ministry.

Grove: Evangelical LeadershipTo learn more about my concerns for ministry, read my Grove booklet on Evangelical Leadership.


If you value this ministry and would like to support me, please visit my crowd-funding Patreon page. You can become a regular supporter from as little as £1.20 a month.


Truth and falsehood in Synod debates

Simon Butler has today made a response to my claim that he ‘lied to Synod’ about me and, though I don’t think that public exchanges of statements are the best way to resolve things, his statement requires that I clarify further than I have already done. (My first explanation and his statement can be found in the comments on the previous post.)

In his speech on Synod, Simon made several claims.

He stated that he had been sent a text. He had not; I had sent him a long and detailed message via Facebook messenger.
He strongly implied that this had been a one-off message. It had not. It was part of a correspondence which had been continuing for the previous 8 days.
He also implied that it was unsolicited. The conversation has in fact been initiated by Simon, and had been moved by him onto issues related to the Synod debate.
He claimed that it was asking intrusive personal questions about his private life. It did not. It did list the public statements Simon himself had made on his own initiative.
He claimed that it was ‘borderline harassment’ and mentioned the question of safeguarding. In fact, I specifically gave Simon the option to question anything I had said, and included these paragraphs:

Continue Reading

On Synod, sexuality, and not ‘Taking note’

Yesterday the General Synod of the Church of England debated the report offered by the House of Bishops outlining where we had got to in the debate about sexuality. The form of the debate was unusual; rather than proposing anything, the motion was simply to ‘Take note’ of the report, which essentially means acknowledging that it exists. In most contexts, this functions as an opportunity for general discussion, after which a substantive motion is offered which proposes action in the light of the report. Because of this, ‘Take note’ votes are usually uncontroversial; a Synod ‘old hand’ commented that, in 28 years of experience, the person had only known of 2 or 3 occasions where a ‘Take note’ motion had not been passed.

But because there was no substantive motion offered, many of those who were unhappy with the report saw the ‘Take note’ motion as the only opportunity to express their view about the contents, even though such a motion technically does not mean that. Jayne Ozanne, a lay member from Oxford, seems to have spent the last weeks and months working full time on a PR campaign against the report, and this bore fruit in the voting. Overall, Synod ‘took note’ by 242 to 184, with 6 abstentions (and about 20 members of Synod not present or not voting). But, as is common when there is controversy or a close vote, there was a call for a vote ‘by houses’ i.e. the votes of bishops, clergy and laity are counted separately, and a motion is only passed if it passed by all three groups. The votes were:

Continue Reading

Tyndale NT Study Group 2017

The Tyndale New Testament Study Group is part of the Tyndale Fellowship for biblical and theological research, based at Tyndale House in Cambridge, and including evangelical scholars from all over the world.

This year’s NT Study Group will be meeting at Tyndale House from 5th to 7th July. Our theme this year is focussing on Depictions of Jesus in the New Testament. Alongside the main theme, there will also be space to hear papers on other issues in NT study.

The study group is a great opportunity to engage with the best of evangelical scholarship, and to meet other scholars from around the world.

Continue Reading

The narrative artistry of Mark 5

The early chapters of Mark’s gospel took us on a breath-taking, roller-coaster ride through the early stages of Jesus’ ministry. We were offered summary accounts of a typical day in Jesus’ life, showing his dynamic power in preaching and healing, and the impact that he made. This included drawing crowds who longed to hear his […]

Continue Reading

Church teaching and LGB mental health

Peter Ould writes: The Oasis report, “In the Name of Love”, has received lots of attention since its release on Friday.  The Oasis paper makes three claims, two of which are relatively uncontroversial. The first is that “LGB people are significantly more likely to experience mental health problems than heterosexuals“. Several papers are cited to support […]

Continue Reading

What is mission all about?

The Grove Evangelism series is taking a slight change of direction by incorporating thinking about mission into its agenda of practical evangelism, working in partnership with CMS. As part of this, the latest title is an exploration of mission and evangelism from a theological perspective. It is written by Tim Naish, who teaches at Ripon College Cuddesdon, having himself had a range of mission experience. Tim begins with an exploration of biblical terms—starting by noting that ‘mission’ is not one of them!

Broadly speaking, there are two ways of beginning to explore the meanings of words: their derivation and history, or their present use. One reasonable place for Christians to start down the former path is with the Bible. However, looking at three representative modern English translations, we nd the word ‘mission’ only once in each: in the NRSV and NIV at Acts 12.25, and in the New Jerusalem Bible at Acts 20.24. In all three cases it translates the Greek word diakonia (elsewhere usually rendered as ‘ministry’ or ‘service’).

Continue Reading

Is evangelical theology abusive?

I came to faith and was nurtured in the evangelical tradition, and I also attended a public school (Dulwich College in London)—though funded by the local authority, since my parents had run out of money to pay for me after funding my brother and sister ahead of me. But I had no contact with the quite small and select circle of those involved in the Iwerne Minster Camps which were for a short time overseen by John Smyth, who it is now revealed physically abused boys he met there at his home. Reading the account of one of his victims is harrowing indeed and, many years later, still captures the painful humiliation that was inflicted and experience. If you have not experienced abuse, then it is a challenging task to imagine the depths of the wounds that were inflicted, and in this sort of context this is compounded both by a sense of betrayal by those in whom you invested so much personal trust, and the spiritual crisis that then follows. How can I now believe anything about God when those who taught me have betrayed me so badly? Mark Meynell, who did attend Iwerne Camps but many years later, captures this sense of disorientation well:

Continue Reading

What made Richard Chartres such an effective leader?

Andy Rider writes: Last week in St Paul’s Cathedral at the end of the Candlemas service, the Bishop of London passed over his crozier to the Bishop of Willesden who will be acting in his place during the episcopal vacancy in this great global city. It was a powerful moment as a much loved bishop began […]

Continue Reading

Were the Shared Conversations just a Con?

Amongst the rush of responses to the report from the House of Bishops last week, one of the more considered came from Miranda Threlfall Holmes (vicar of Belmont and Pittington on the outskirts of Durham, but soon to move to Liverpool Diocese) and it was widely circulated on social media. It offers (along with other comments) […]

Continue Reading

Can the gospel reach digital natives?

‘Once upon a time, if you wanted to communicate with someone, you either spoke to them, sent them a letter (which could be delivered in either of the two postal deliveries every day!), or you phoned them. This could be from one of two places: either a phone box in the street, requiring loads of […]

Continue Reading

Can we disagree better online?

For the last two days, I have been accumulating material towards a post reflecting on Trump’s executive orders and how much of the response to them fails to explore the facts. It seems odd to me that we can accuse someone of disregard for the facts—and then fall into the same trap ourselves in our […]

Continue Reading