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 … Continue Reading

A lot of nonsense about World Vision

They say that, in war, the first casualty is truth—and in the war of words about World Vision USA’s decision to change their terms of employment this certainly seems to be the case. Richard Stearns, President of World Vision USA, announced in an interview with Christianity Today that its policy restricting employment to Christians who … Continue Reading

Was Luke wrong about the date of Jesus’ birth?

Last week I watched the film Gravity. The effects were spectacular, the photography breathtaking, the characterisations engaging, and the story held one’s attention throughout. It even raised some profound (religious?) questions about life, death and purpose. And yet, when I left the cinema, I could not decide whether I had enjoyed the film or not. For … Continue Reading

Jesus wasn’t born in a stable

I am sorry to spoil your preparations for Christmas before the Christmas lights have even gone up—though perhaps it is better to do this now than the week before Christmas, when everything has been carefully prepared. But Jesus wasn’t born in a stable, and, curiously, the New Testament hardly even hints that this might have … Continue Reading

How should Luke 16.19­–31 shape our view of heaven and hell?

The story of the rich man and Lazarus appears on first reading to depict a detailed ‘map’ of ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’, but is this the right way to read it?

First, it is worth noting that the words ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ themselves do not occur in the parable. The NT talks about post-mortem life in a range of ways, not all of them easy to reconcile with one another. Perhaps the most controlling one would be the idea of ‘sleep’ as used by Paul in, for example, 1 Cor 15. ‘Heaven’ in the NT mostly appears to refer to the realm of God’s presence, reign and reality, and the central NT hope is not that we will leave the earth to go to heaven, but that God’s realm will come down to the earth (see Rev 21). (See Tom Wright’s Grove booklet for the most accessible exposition of this.)

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