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Author Archive | Ian Paul

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Does God meet us in particular places?

On our recent trip to New Zealand, I was struck by the traditional Maori emphasis on the sacredness of particular places. In being introduced to Maori culture and religious belief, we were asked to respect this rock as of being of sacred significance, or that mountain, or this other place. In some ways this practice is not much different from the respect given to sacred spaces in a Western, Christian tradition. But the sacred space of a building (rather than the natural world) means that the emphasis is on separation: the sacred space is one separate and distinct from everyday life, and to some extent cut off from it. When the sacred space is found in the natural world, there is a much greater sense of integration, and I might encounter the sacred at any moment in my everyday life.

My favourite story during our travels relates to the origins of Hahei on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. (It include the place, Cathedral Cove, where the opening scene of the second Narnia film, Prince Caspian, was shot.) It is named after the tribal leader Hei, who led his tribe to a new area until he came across an island (Mahurangi Island) that he believed look like his nose. This was a sign from the gods that this land should be theirs, and not only that island but everything that could be seen from it. The name of the place, Hahei, means ‘breath of Hei’; Hei now revered as a divine ancestor, whose breath from his island nostrils creates the onshore and offshore winds in the area.

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(What) do we think about Messy Church?

I am very excited to announce that the book on Messy Church which I have contributed to and edited is out this week. Being Messy, Being Church includes a wide range of reflections from some fascinating contributors (including three bishops and contributions from Switzerland, South Africa and Australia) and tackles key practical, pastoral and theological questions […]

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Sex and morality in Church and society

Following the debate in General Synod on the House of Bishop’s report on the Shared Conversations, various bishops have been making statements to their dioceses outlining their reflections on the debate and where we have got to as a Church. Perhaps the most striking was that made by Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, in […]

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Why Pope Francis is wrong about begging

Jon Kuhrt writes: This week I was at a church in Kings Cross, central London, talking with the minister when a man came to the door asking for help.  He explained that he was not from London but his wife had just been discharged from UCH (a London hospital) following an emergency operation.  He said they […]

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Has Preaching Had its Day?

Whilst in New Zealand, mostly on holiday and visiting our son on his gap year, I was invited to give a public lecture on the subject of ‘Has preaching had its day?’ This is the introduction and the outline of what I said, which includes exploring the main objections to preaching in contemporary life and […]

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Mourning our Infidelity

Elaine Storkey writes: The passing of the measure to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England was not a victory for liberal revisionists in the church. It was the overwhelming sense amongst evangelicals, Catholics, charismatics and liberals that this was now where God was leading our church. The Women Bishops measure would not […]

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How many times did Jesus visit Jerusalem?

One of the obvious differences in chronology between John’s gospel and the ‘Synoptics’ (Matthew, Mark and Luke) is that John gives an account of Jesus in Jerusalem on four different occasions, two during a Passover (John 2.13, 12.12), one during an unnamed festival (John 5.1) and one at Hannukah (John 10.22). (The third Passover is […]

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What is the pastoral impact of eschatology?

In my new Grove booklet on eschatology, after outlining eschatological expectation in Old and New Testaments, I end my reflecting on the pastoral implications of what we have found.There are many aspects of Christian living which are affected by our understanding of eschatology, and where misunderstanding creates serious obstacles both within the church and at […]

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Why don’t we talk about the end of the world more?

My latest Grove Booklet is now available and it offers an overview of eschatology—beliefs about the end things—starting with background ideas in the Old Testament and looking at the key issues in the Gospels, Paul and Revelation. My introduction explains why this is such an important issue. Eschatology, meaning ‘understanding of last things,’ is of […]

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