Challenging Christmas myths on shepherds, swaddling, and support for the holy family

Christmas is a time for celebration, for feasting and for relationships. But it is also a time for a mild engagement in iconoclasm, as we peel back the layers of accreted tradition and recover the origins of the Christmas gospel—something which needs to happen every year, it seems. In that spirit (and Spirit) I offer … Continue Reading

The seven practices of evangelical spirituality

Evangelical identity is often thought to be best defined by the four aspects defined by David Bebbington in his Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989; London: Routledge, 2003): There are four qualities that have been the special marks of Evangelical religion: conversionism, the belief that lives … Continue Reading

Three surprises for Christmas

Every year at Christmas, we are once again reminded that the shepherds to whom the angels appeared were poor outcasts, that the holy family was abandoned and alone, and perhaps that the swaddling of Jesus was not something ordinary but a sign of spiritual significance. Christmas is a time for celebration, for feasting and for … Continue Reading

How does the cross overcome not just our guilt, but our shame?

Jon Kuhrt writes: A continual challenge in Christian community work and social action is the connection between the practical work being done with the actual message itself. People can pour into church buildings for toddler groups, foodbanks, lunch clubs, youth clubs and night shelters. But often these social action programmes become detached and disconnected from the message … Continue Reading

Is it time to rethink the ‘testimony’?

At the Second Festival of Theology, Mike Starkey (who teaches at the Church Army centre in Sheffield) suggested that we need to rethink the traditional ‘testimony’: It is a truth universally acknowledged that Christians invited to talk about their faith look terrified. Most people simply don’t know where to start. And that’s before you introduce … Continue Reading