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Is it time to forget about hell?

From time to time, somewhere within the Good Old C of E, I come across a claim so baffling that it stays with me and I struggle to make sense of it. That last happened ten days ago, when I read the article by Dr Sam Wells in the Church Times, which called for a reformation so the Church ‘should rethink its purpose and change the way churches [ie church buildings] are used accordingly’. I was all the more baffled knowing that Wells, formerly Dean at Duke Divinity School in the US and married to Jo Bailey Wells, the Bishop of Dorking, has a reputation as an able theologian.

Wells begins by putting Jesus’ offer of abundant life at the centre of the Church’s mission:

Jesus is our model of abundant life; his life, death and resurrection chart the transformation from the scarcity of sin and death to the ab­un­dance of healing and resur­rection; he longs to bring all humankind into reconciled and flourishing relationship with God, one another, themselves, and all creation.

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What on earth is God up to?

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by […]

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Is it true that ‘God is love’?

It seems to be increasingly common in a range of ethical debates in the public sphere for one protagonist or other to reach for the formula ‘God is love’ as a quick resolution to disagreement. But this is usually done in a particular way, in the form of a progressive from God to us and […]

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How do we make sense of the Beatitudes?

The Beatitudes—the collection of sayings that introduce the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ in Matt 5, with their parallel in Luke 6—are amongst some of the most memorable of the teachings of Jesus. They are often cited as favourite texts, and are referred to as a key element of Jesus’ (challenging and puzzling) radical social ethics. […]

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(How) should we proclaim bad news?

A little while ago, I preached on Isaiah chapter 1, and it challenged me to think through how we proclaim bad news in our preaching. 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), […]

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Violence in Christianity and Islam

Following the atrocities in London and Manchester in recent weeks, many commentators have been quick to say ‘This violence has nothing to do with Islam.’ When that is claimed by a leader within the Muslim community, then it appears to mean something particular: ‘This violence is nothing to do with Islamic beliefs as I understand […]

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Preaching on Trinity Sunday

Here it comes again: that Sunday in the lectionary which most preachers dread or (to disguise this) suddenly think of guest preachers who need an opportunity to contribute their ministry. Yes, it is Trinity Sunday! Rather than offer you a sermon as a resource, I thought it would be helpful to point out three things […]

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What does Rev 4–5 tell us about the Trinity?

I am writing a commentary on the Book of Revelation, and also doing work on the contribution of Revelation to our understanding of the Trinity. I post hereby summary comments on Revelation 4 and 5, since these are the most important contributions in Revelation to our understanding of the relation between Jesus and the Father, […]

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