Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Three times fourteen generations (Matthew 1:17)

This is a very puzzling verse, very early in the New Testament:
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
All Bible students soon learn that this verse is not to be interpreted in the most obvious sense that a Western reader would choose. In Matthew's list, some names have been omitted. The 14-14-14 pattern is only achieved through means of those omissions. If we add in the missing individuals, the symmetry (and divisibility by seven) disappears.

Read more about how to understand this verse in the article on my website.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Should expressions of Christian belief be career-ending?

Should expressions of Christian belief, spoken anywhere vaguely outside of our own bathrooms or anywhere else where nobody else will hear them, be career-ending?
That is, unfortunately, no longer a theoretical question in the UK. Read here to find some of the extracted arguments of the lawyer of Sheffield University - a university, still thought of by many as a bastion of free thought and inquiry - arguing that such expressions should be automatically career ending, across a whole swathe of careers. The lawyer was arguing that such expressions in this case justified expelling a student from a course related to social work, on the grounds that said student had disqualified himself from such a career by expressing Christian thoughts on Facebook.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Christ is risen

Matthew 28 - "1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said."
Christ is risen, and the gospel is preached. Results?
  • The trained elite of the world's mightiest empire, dedicated to keeping him in the tomb, are utterly powerless.
  •  Two women, two "nobodies", who simply were seeking to honour Jesus, hear the glorious announcement, meet the risen Saviour, and begin the multi-millenia, triumphant process of taking that great news to the nations, beginning with his apostles.

There's the history of the world since, in miniature. To some, those great in the world, focussed upon this world, seeking to suppress the truth of a new Lord of Lords and King of Kings, his resurrection of the stench of death leading to death. To others, those who in the world's eyes are nothing, he is the beautiful savour of life, bringing life, and they form part of the great chain of life: those whom death can never touch. Jesus is risen: hallelujah!

Monday, 15 April 2019

"Fast, pain-free divorces? They are slow agony for our children"

Peter Hitchens has, for at least the last couple of decades, been in the painful position of being right about a lot of important things, but continually been treated as not even worth listening to (most recently: before June 2016, he was telling us that "Leave" would win the EU referendum, and that a massive constitutional crisis would result because the promises begin given that the result would be implemented were incredible). He was no-platformed before his time, largely for his conservative social views.

A lot more people are now becoming used to this concept, i.e. of counter-arguments to the prevailing "progressive" orthodoxy, especially on social matters, simply being ignored or treated as unsayable, instead of debated. The culture has now been shifted to the extent that idea of "no platform for bigots" (where "bigot" means "person who doesn't agree with us") is being mainstreamed, promoted as virtuous and, yes, anyone who disagrees with it is probably a bigot who shouldn't be listened to (see what they did there?). There should, it is being said throughout our universities and beyond, be "no platform" for anyone whose ideas aren't part of revolutionary left-wing politics. Society should belong only to left-wing revolutionaries; anyone else must become an UnPerson, and their existence should disappear down the Memory Hole, never to be referred to by any civilised person.

Peter Hitchens was, as I say, no-platformed before his time, from at least 1997 onwards, as he valiantly sought to ask (among many other things) why it was of absolutely no apparent interest to the British media how many prominent "New Labour" figures had been, as he was before recanting and openly detailing his errors, members of revolutionary Trotskyist organisations.

Well, here he is, telling us what the consequences of further divorce liberalisation will be: He poses a question: why is marriage a unique area in which, if you break the contract, the law sides with you, instead of against you? This is the fast road to accelerating our societal ruin - but where are the voices rising in opposition against it?

Thursday, 11 April 2019

The compulsory grooming of children - will you be signing up?

From a Christian point of view, the new "Relationships and Sex Education (RSE)" regulations amount to compulsory, immoral grooming of an entire nation's children. Children will be indoctrinated in the teachings of the sexual revolution, encouraged to experiment, taught about sexuality in an amoral context, and in some items taught definite immorality and that it is wrong not to be open to all kinds of harmful, damaging at extreme ideas (the ideas themselves, not just kind to the people misled by them). And, for some of this (and all of it for some), opting out will be forbidden. And this teaching will go on at their most vulnerable ages, throughout the whole process of turning from an infant into an adult: drip-feed indoctrination from infancy, offering of perversion and confusion as live options as they go through adolescence, puberty and sexual awakening, etcetera.

Again I ask, what are Christians planning to do about this? The crunch comes. Are we going to voluntarily send along our children to be groomed week by week? Do we intend just to turn a blind eye, or trust in a cunning plan to undo this out of hours? We're going to immerse vulnerable young minds throughout the day, throughout the working week, in a context in which they're continually bombarded with messages (carefully crafted, with large amounts of funding behind them) that we're wrong, that and then tell them it's wrong, and hope for the best? Is that our idea of what it means to "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4), and to surround them with discussion and encouragement in the good law of God throughout their childhood (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)?

The hour is late. But it's never too late to do the right thing, and entrust ourselves to God. For churches and church leaderships, that means coming together to make sure that there is full support available - including, if there are none available, Christian schools - for the Christian education of our children. Their raising in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, rather than grooming in the doctrines of depravity. (Those two things really are different, and the difference matters). For parents, that means not sending your children along to compulsory grooming. If not sending them is against the rules, then break the rules. We must obey God rather than men. You'll get invited to speak to the headmaster, you'll get fined for truancy: pay the fines, or don't pay them, but don't send your children for compulsory grooming. If they escalate it, withdraw your children (or withdraw them first before giving them an (unfair) stick to beat you with). Educate them in a school, a co-op, or a home (or a combination of all three) where there's no compulsory grooming, and where there is godly teaching.

Will you have to pay a cost? Of course you will, you will have to take up your cross daily, and follow Christ. Are you signed up for that, or not?

Friday, 1 February 2019

Saying what the Bible says, as the Bible says it

This is well worth reading:

God graciously gave me a realisation some years ago that affects all subjects, not just ones controversial in the culture. It was this: our position on an issue is not Biblical unless we can not only affirm what the Bible says, but also would naturally say the same thing in the same way. i.e. The structure of our own thinking is such that we not only tick the box "the Bible says X, so I agree with it", but that we have the same overall world-view in general and consequent approach to an issue in particular that we have the same framework and would find the Bible's way of expressing things a most logical and reasonable way to do so.

By this, I don't of course mean that we culturally become 1st century AD or 10th century BC Israelites. I don't mean that where there are cultural illustrations or backgrounds that we pretend that those are the very same backgrounds or illustrations that are immediately accessible to us. I'm talking about the inner logic and worldview of a way of thinking. The steps that lead through from premises to conclusions and applications. Nor am I denying the need for pastors to explain things to people in a way that is understandable and accessible. I am not saying that we should adopt archaic or incomprehensible patterns of speech. What I am saying is that it's not just the formal content of our practical affirmations and denials that matter, but the routes we take to get there.

The above link quotes an example of an absolutely wrong sort of way of affirming the Bible's teaching. It, on the surface, ticks the box of being able to say, "yes, I affirm the Bible's teaching". But it is far, far from a statement that flows naturally from the Bible's overall revelation of the truth about God our Creator, the world, man, our relationship to God, and human sexuality. And that is why - of course - you don't find any statements of that same flavour in the Bible itself. It is why you do find things like Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6. Again, I'm using the issue of sexual immorality used in the above article. But is applies in all sorts of areas. Do we think, reason and conclude like the Bible does? Then - and only then - is our thinking actually (and not just notionally) Biblical.