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Promoting Christenings

The Church of England has just launched a new website for those interesting in having their children baptised, or ‘christened’ as the website mostly calls it. (The language here is a little odd: at one point it says ‘Baptism is the heart of the christening’; I had thought the two words were usually used synonymously.) And very impressive it is too. Or is it?

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Work, power and fruitfulness

Earlier today, I read a blog post which started by mentioning ‘one of the most powerful Christian leaders in the world.’ I don’t think I read much further. What on earth could such a comment mean? I was particularly struck by because of a conversation I had had a couple of weeks earlier. I visited […]

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Do Christians grow more holy?

Across the pond, another dispute has arisen and another split taken place, though it has not been much reported beyond narrow interested circles (fortunately). I have to admit to struggling to relate to this kind of debate, so you will need to look elsewhere for a better reporting of it (if you are interested). But it does […]

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How social media corrodes understanding

The real danger here is a lack of critical thinking, a lack of interest in the question: ‘Yes, it might be entertaining, or engaging, or say what I want to hear—but is it true?’. There is a caricature which says that concern for the truth is the preserve of anally-retentive, awkward, conservative/fundamentalist Christians. But it is not. It should be the concern for all Christians. The way many people, and in particular Christian influencers, are using social media is corroding this concern for asking even basic questions of truth. And in turn this is corroding understanding of faith, the reading of Scripture, and even Christian discipleship. We will all be the poorer for it.

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Does the letter of James have a unified theme?

The letter of James is popular and potent, combining vivid and memorable imagery with a directness of command and application. But it also offers a number of striking puzzles: Why does it not refer to the basic elements of Christian faith that you might expect, like the cross, the resurrection and the Holy Spirit? How […]

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I’m not busy

Three times in the last week or so, I have received a communication from someone which says ‘I know you are very busy…’ and these have stuck in my mind. One of these said ‘I am sure you are very busy—I know that I am.’ A couple of things struck me immediately. The first, and […]

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Celebrating an Ordinary Joe

Today is the feast of Joseph of Nazareth in the Common Worship and Revised Common Lectionaries. Reading about him this morning reminded me of an excellent reflection on Joseph by Mark Greene of LICC from 2009. It is a great example of a short, rhetorically crafted reflection—and also offers plenty to think about. Ordinary Joe […]

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Cringe-free All-age Worship

On Sunday I helped to lead an all-age service at St Nic’s, where I am Associate Minister, looking at the story of Jonah. I had some interesting and encouraging feedback from the congregation; one person told me that they had brought a family they knew along, and that they so enjoyed it, they were planning to come […]

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The Persecution of Christians

Last week I read what I think is the most important article I have read all year. John Allen, writing in the Spectator, describes what he calls ‘The war on Christians’ and explains why he believes that ‘The global persecution of Christians is the unreported catastrophe of our time.’ Allen is an American Catholic based […]

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How often did Jesus’ followers fast?

How often did the first Jesus-followers fast? Was it an occasional thing, focused on specific events or causes? Or was it something more habitual and regular, an integral part of their devotional life? As most studies of the subject point out, fasting in the Old Testament was associated either with particular festivals (such as the […]

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Nine reasons why you should fast

1. Jesus said so Jesus didn’t command fasting as a spiritual discipline as such, but he appears to assume that that is what his followers will do. In the so-called ‘Sermon on the Mount’ in Matt 5–7, he says ‘When you give…’ (Matt 6.2), ‘When you pray…’ (Matt 6.5) and ‘When you fast…’ (Matt 6.17). […]

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