The real problem for the NHS

Today sees publication of the Keogh report highlighting unusually high mortality in 14 hospital trusts, 11 of which are now going into ‘special measures.’ This has initiated the usual blame-game amongst politicians, in particular the Coalition blaming inadequate management by the previous Labour government. It has also prompted promises of new management, and review of … Continue Reading

Phoebe, carrier of Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians

Romans 16 has been the subject of growing attention in scholarship for the last few years. Where an earlier generation might have thought it an addition, or an aside, commentators increasingly now see it as exemplifying a number of Paul’s concerns expressed earlier in the letter, and giving a vital window into Paul’s understanding and practice as … Continue Reading

What does the decision on women bishops mean?

As you will be well aware, General Synod this week voted not to approve the measure to allow women to be ordained bishops. Was this the most important thing that happened in the news? No. Does it spell the end of the Church of England? No. Is it a reason to leave the Church? No. Does it fatally compromise the Church’s life and ministry in this country? Contrary to some reports, I believe not. I do not think that having women bishops is of the esse of the Church. (I don’t think having any kind of bishops is, but that is another story.)

But we do need to reflect on what has happened here.

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Why does God allow people to do evil?

This article was printed in the Winter edition of New Wine magazine, and is reproduced here by permission.

We are confronted almost daily with the reality of evil people at large in our world. Robert Mugabe is the latest in the long line of villainous leaders to dominate headlines. President of Zimbabwe since 1980, he has inflicted untold misery on his people—so why has he been allowed to continue? It is striking that Western policy in recent years has often appeared to be shaped by response to individuals, evil leaders who need to be toppled. So the second Gulf War in Iraq was directed specifically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. And it was seen to be a triumph of Western action that Gaddafi was deposed as leader of Libya. However evil certain systems or cultures appear to be, it is evil people that we feel the need to focus on.

Questions in Scripture

Scripture appears similarly to be concerned with evil individuals, and the challenge they offer to our understanding of God’s love and power. What will God’s response be to evil and obstinate Pharoah, oppressing and enslaving God’s people? asks the writer of Exodus. What will God do about a succession of kings of Israel and Judah who ‘do evil in the sight of the Lord’? asks the writer of 1 and 2 Kings. How can God not only allow the foreign leader Cyrus to flourish, but actually make use of him in liberating his people? asks Isaiah. What sense can we make of the tyrannical kings Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Darius as we face tyranny in our own day? asks Daniel. The questions continue to haunt us.

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Summary: the Bible on women and authority

I have just finished writing a Grove Biblical booklet on ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 32 pages, due out in the next week or so. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2 and 3, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 18, Romans 161 Cor 111 Cor  14Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

Having wrestled with these texts for the last two years, this is my considered summary:

1. The creation accounts offer no evidence of hierarchy in male-female relationships as part of the original created

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What did Paul think of women’s ministry?

I am in the process of finishing a Grove Biblical booklet with the title ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 28 (or more likely, 32) pages, due out in the next week or so. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2 and 3, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 111 Cor  14Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

Here are my comments on Romans 16, which is important since we see here Paul offering direct comment on and evaluation of the ministry of women he knew.

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Can women teach? part (iii)

I am in the process of writing a Grove Biblical booklet with the title ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 28 (or more likely, 32) pages! Due out this month. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2 and 3, Luke 24, John 20,Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 111 Cor  14Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

Here are some final comments on 1 Tim 2.8–15. Earlier comments on this passage can be found here and here.

Creation order

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Can women teach? part (ii)

The root of this word cannot mean ‘silence’ in the sense of not saying anything, since in it used in Acts 11.18 and Acts 21.14 immediately followed by something the people then said, and so is translated ‘quietened down’ or something similar, and signifies the people ceasing their objections. … ‘I am not permitting …’ As some have noted, the construction here is unusual, in that Paul uses a first person present tense (‘I am not permitting’) rather than either an imperative (‘they must not…’) or a third person present tense (‘it is not permitted to…’) both of which come in 1 Cor 14.34.

Can women teach? part (i)

I am in the process of writing a Grove Biblical booklet with the title ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 28 pages! Due out later this month. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2 and 3, Luke 24, John 20,Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 111 Cor  14, Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

This is the introduction to the section on 1 Tim 2. Although it is general, even these observations significantly affect how we read this important text. (And do you like the picture?!)

This text often sits at the centre of the debate on what the New Testament (and in particular Paul) says about how men and women relate in ministry. At times it has been treated as a litmus test for orthodoxy in some circles, but in fact almost every aspect of the passage has been disputed, and the history of interpretation has been more varied than is often acknowledged. So, despite being a short passage, it needs a section to itself.

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