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What does science say about sexuality?

‘Shame on you! You’re a disgrace! These people were born gay! How dare you suggest otherwise! I am going to make a formal complaint!’

This was the rather striking response to one of my seminars at New Wine this summer on the biblical picture of human sexuality. In response to the first question following my talk, I had set out why I thought the debate on same-sex sexuality was so contentious. Then the second question was about ‘nature versus nurture’—are people ‘born gay’? And why would God reject someone because of their sexuality? My first response was adamant: God does not reject anyone because of their sexuality. But I then went on to outline what the consensus of research appear to say. It was this which provoked the response above—and it illustrates one of the major problems about this area of discussion. Although it is often claimed that issues of research, science and causation of sexual orientation are not that important, since they do not solve the ethical or pastoral questions, in fact most people hold on very dearly to a particular view (for understandable reasons) and these views on the science often in fact shape ethical and pastoral responses.

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Does religious freedom require a secular public sphere?

In this guest post, Will Jones, who works in the Coventry Diocesan Offices, explores the future of religious freedom in Britain. Findings from the 2015 annual British Social Attitudes survey published this month sent secularists into a mild panic. Showing an increase in those identifying as Christian, from 42% to 43%, and a corresponding decrease […]

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Coping with disappointment in ministry

Have you experienced disappointment in your ministry? If you even hesitate to answer ‘yes’, then I would wager that you have not been long in ministry, whether that is ordained ministry or some form of lay ministry. I say that not to sound cynical, but to be honest about the realities of ministry—but also as […]

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(How) does Acts 15 help us with difficult decisions?

The account of the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 has been drawn on in a range of situations where Christians have argued for a radical change in our understanding of the church and salvation. It comes up frequently in the current debate on sexuality, but was cited by Dick France, late Principal of Wycliffe […]

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Does growth need management?

Over the weekend, two articles appeared in the Guardian by Harriet Sherwood, citing Martyn Percy’s disagreement with the direction the Church of England is apparently taking. The first cites comments from the conclusion to a forthcoming book, which appears to express Martyn’s overall discontent. One of Britain’s senior theologians has warned that the Church of England […]

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Does Jesus call us to ‘repent’?

The idea of ‘repenting of sin’ causes us a bit of a problem nowadays. It causes us a problem in relation to those outside the Church as well as those inside the Church and faith. For those outside, there is a sense that Christians are ‘holier than thou’, and are telling them that they are […]

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Is grace opposed to law?

It is relatively commonplace, in ordinary discussions about Christian discipleship, to hear the idea expressed that grace is the opposite to ‘law’. I think this is intended at a number of different levels: we are forgiven by God’s grace, and not because of (or in fact despite of) how we have lived our lives; our […]

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Why I won’t be watching the Olympics

For the next three weeks, our TV schedules are going to be dominated by ‘the greatest spectacle on earth’ that we call the Olympic Games. There is no doubt that there will be extraordinary feats of courage and endurance, and inspiring stories of individuals winning against the odds. Clergy will be on the lookout for […]

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The Wounds of a Leader

I have been at New Wine B this week, and at the early morning meetings Simon Ponsonby (from St Aldate’s, Oxford) has been reflected on verses from 2 Corinthians. This morning we reflected on perhaps some of the most challenging: I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and […]

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Power and the pulpit

Back in June, I wrote about two apparently unconnected topics. The first was around the question of whether preaching should be monologue or dialogue, and how we might make the monologue we were forced into more dialogical. Within that, one of the questions I touched on but did not expand on further was the relation […]

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Is salvation a ‘wide open space’?

I have often heard it said that when God delivers us, he leads us from a sense of being trapped, hemmed in and confined to a sense of being in a ‘wide open space.’ I think I have probably said this myself in a talk or sermon on more than one occasion. I remember, many […]

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