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Author Archive | Ian Paul

How did the first Christians ‘worship’?

One of the most frustrating things about the ‘occasional’ (rather than systematic) nature of the NT writings is that none of them give us precise details of what the first followers of Jesus did when they met together for ‘worship’. (I use inverted commas here, because the NT never actually uses the word ‘worship’ for what Christians did when they met.) If only Paul had attached to his letter to Corinth and order of service! We would have avoided centuries of debate between denominations, and saved ourselves hundreds of thousands of hours in liturgical revision—and even avoided the debate about whether we do in fact meet to ‘worship’!

The latest Grove Worship booklet is by Colin Buchanan, and asks the intriguing question: suppose we do have hints in the Letter to the Hebrews as to what happened when believers gathered? Colin is well equipped to ask this, being not only a life-long commentator and contributor to thinking about worship and liturgy in the Church of England, but also classically trained and an excellent exegete.

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Is Jesus begotten of the Father?

Peter Ould writes: Harry Farley at Christian Today has reported the response to the reading of the Qu’ran at a Communion service (Eucharist) in St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow on the 6th of January. You can watch the reading yourself here: The passage being recited is from Surah 19, ‘Mary’ and includes some apocryphal material about Jesus speaking as a […]

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A Tribute to Jill Saward

Elaine Storkey writes: The sad news of Jill Saward’s death has reverberated widely, more than most of us could have anticipated. It was headlined by the BBC, featured in newspapers and spread through the social media. Something of Jill’s story has touched a chord with people across the country, so that even many who were […]

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Can we preach bad news? Should we?

I have generally observed a striking divide between theological traditions in relation to whether the gospel is in fact ‘good news’ (as the word ‘gospel’ tells us—a ‘good spell’ or word), or whether we need to start with the ‘bad news’ of sin and judgement before we can say anything good. The NT gives a somewhat […]

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Can bishops save the Church?

Earlier this week, Adrian Hilton (who writes the Archbishop Cranmer blog) reprised his hosting of Martyn Percy’s views with the offering of a new set of 95 Theses, in the year of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s original. (Contrary to suggestions in online discussion, Luther’s are not dull and rambling, and are worth a […]

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Is the story of Epiphany credible?

The Feast of the Epiphany in the church’s liturgical calendar is based on the events of Matt 2.1–12, the visit of the ‘wise men’ from the East to the infant Jesus. There are plenty of things about the story which might make us instinctively treat it as just another part of the constellation of Christmas traditions, […]

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2017—the year of being kind?

A friend and colleague commented three days ago that a local school had a single rule: be kind. And that seemed like a good approach to Christian life and ethics, so would become this person’s New Year Resolution. For many people it feel as though the last year was not kind, and a little more […]

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Is Christmas Good News?

Though it is Advent which has passed, and we are now in the Christmas season proper, because of the front-loading of most Christmas activities, it is now the season when most church leaders are breathing a sigh of relief and finally putting their feet up—assuming they didn’t on Christmas day itself. It might be a […]

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