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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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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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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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Preaching on the Transfiguration

The lectionary gospel reading tomorrow, the last Sunday before Lent, is Matt 17.1–9, Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration. There some important things to note in relation to this passage as we think about preaching on it. All three Synoptic accounts place this immediately after Peter’s confession of Jesus at Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus then starts […]

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How do we make sense of (Jesus’) commandments?

A couple of days ago I read the following Tweet: Jesus only gave us two commandments, and both of them were positive. The reference is, of course, to Jesus’ reply to the ‘lawyer’ who was ‘testing’ him. The passage comes in all three Synoptic gospels, though in quite different places. Matthew 22:34-40 Mark 12:28-31 Luke […]

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Tyndale NT Study Group 2017

The Tyndale New Testament Study Group is part of the Tyndale Fellowship for biblical and theological research, based at Tyndale House in Cambridge, and including evangelical scholars from all over the world. This year’s NT Study Group will be meeting at Tyndale House from 5th to 7th July. Our theme this year is focussing on Depictions of Jesus in the New Testament. Alongside […]

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Receiving Bad News

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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