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Revelation and generosity

I have just finished writing some notes for the Bible Reading Fellowship. (You can subscribe to Guidelines here.) This is how I ended the series:

NewJerusalemGoodness—we have reached the end of our whistle-stop tour of the most exciting, influential, complex and engaging book of the New Testament, and perhaps of all human literature. If you are feeling a little giddy, then that’s no surprise!

But you might also be feeling disturbed by the apparent violence of some of the imagery, especially in the last few chapters. There is much debate about this, and what it means for our appreciation of the book, and there are no simple answers to help us overcome our cultural distance from the text. But we do need to bear in mind some key issues as we continue to reflect.

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Tyndale NT study group July 2015

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. I have succeeded John Nolland of Trinity Bristol as Chair of the group.

This year’s NT Study Group will be meeting on 8th to 10th July in Cambridge and will be focussing on the letter of James, though with some other papers as well. It looks like a very interesting programme; full details can be found on the Tyndale Fellowship website. Papers will include:

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The ‘Gay Cake’ ruling

The judgement on the private case in Northern Ireland between Gareth Lee (from Queerspace) and Ashers Bakers has been delivered and it’s an absolute corker.

Some background first. This private case (not a criminal case so any talk of the defendants being found “guilty” is incorrect) centres around the refusal of Ashers Bakers to bake and decorate a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. The plaintiff, who had previously bought baked items at Ashers (and this will become relevant later) placed the order initially on the 9th of May, but only came in with the actual design on the 12th. It was at this point the order was refused. The plaintiff claimed that he had been discriminated against on the grounds of his support for gay marriage and his sexuality. In their defence, the bakers claimed that they were unaware of the plaintiff’s sexuality and that the decision to turn down the order was based solely on the political campaign that was involved (to legalise gay marriage in Northern Ireland).

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What is the mark of the beast?

The ‘mark of the beast’ in Rev 13.18 is the most notorious and talked-about aspect of the book. [The beast from the land] also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or […]

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Genuine humility

I am continuing to work through Thom Shultz’ Why Nobody Wants to go to Church Anymore, and we have been discussing it in our ‘missional community’ in St Nic’s church. Having explored the question of whether church can become ‘irresistible’, we looked at the first two of the four Acts of Love: Radical Welcome and Fearless Conversation. […]

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‘By their fruit you will know…’ what?

How do we make our minds up about complex ethical issues? How can we decide between people we respect—Christians leaders, friends even—who offer conflicting advice about what the right decision is, what God’s will is in a difficult or challenging situation? An ever more common appeal is made to Jesus’ saying in Matt 7.16: By […]

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Spirituality as a bridge into culture

Last weekend we had Brian Draper join us for the morning services and a lunchtime meeting on ‘everyday spirituality’. Brian used to work for the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity, but is now a freelance writer and speaker, and has for some years been a contributor to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day. I found Brian’s approach […]

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Reading Revelation 4–9

If you make use of Scripture Union’s Encounter with God Bible reading notes, then you will be reading through Revelation 4–9 this week. (If you don’t, why not subscribe?) Here are the comments I wrote on these chapters; for more detailed comment, see my Grove booklet How to Read the Book of Revelation. For my notes on chapters 1 to 3, see my previous post.

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The End of Democracy?

What is the end, the goal of democracy? It is to allow the people to hold to account those who exercise power over them. In our sort of representative democracy it does not mean that politicians simply do what the people vote for. Most of us have neither the time nor the expertise to make […]

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Reading Revelation 1–3

If you make use of Scripture Union’s Encounter with God Bible reading notes, then you will have been reading through Revelation 1–3 this week. (If you don’t, why not subscribe?) Here are the comments I wrote on these chapters; for more detailed comment, see my Grove booklet How to Read the Book of Revelation. Revelation 1:1-20: A kaleidoscopic […]

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Who should I vote for?

A rather strange polarisation seems to have gripped discussion about tomorrow’s election. In his interview with Ed Miliband on the BBC news yesterday, James Landale led with the question: ‘Have you ever run a business? Have you ever made a profit?’ Of course, the answer was ‘No’, and would have been easy for Miliband to […]

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