September 5, 2008
For a long time Sir Cliff Richard has lived out his Christian faith in the eye of the public. As a pop star and entertainer he has lived his life with integrity under the media spotlight which is no little achievement in Britain. Whilst he has used his fame to winsomely commend the Christian faith. This makes it all the more sad to hear of his recent commendation of same sex blessings. According to a report in today’s Times Cliff says ‘I think the Church must come round and see people as they are now…Gone are the days when we assumed loving relationships would be solely between men and women.’
His comments highlight a number of issues.
- We once again see the danger of figures in the public eye who become spokesmen for Christianity simply because they are in the public eye. Cliff is a hugely influential figure and this will make his comments all the more damaging.
- We again see the danger of allowing cultural norms to determine morality. Here Cliff simply repeats what is going on in our culture rather than challenging it.
- Cliff somewhat misses the point in his comments. Christians have long recognised that people can have deep, loving relationships with people of the same sex. The issue is not friendship or companionship it is a sexual relationship.
- Cliff makes no mention of the Bible as the authority for his comments. His authority has become his opinion which he sadly seems to think carries weight because of his public profile.
I do hope that in the days to come those who have spiritual influence in Cliff’s life will gently restore him and show him the folly of the stance that he has taken.
You can read the article here- timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4675929.ece
September 3, 2008
In another example of the do-goodery that the famous specialise in Jude Law has been called upon. He is promoting a day of global ceasefire on 21st September- which if it happened would be an excellent way to celebrate my birthday! I’m not quite sure which is the greater in this case- Law’s egotism or his naivety. Does Law really think that if he asks people to stop fighting they will stop? Or that even if his ceasefire came about it would make any material difference? If he has this amount of clout he should be cloned and dispatched to every war zone in the world.
Law’s approach and those who are with him show that enlightenment values are still alive and well. They didn’t die out in the 1980’s with all those people who would say to me, ‘why don’t you people in Northern Ireland just get along with one another?’ Wow! We’d never thought of that!
The desire for peace is of course laudable. Indeed it is natural for that is what we were made for. Only a fool would not long in his heart for peace. But we need to ask ourselves realistically how it will come about. Will it truly come about because an actor asks for it? I read the blurb on a book recently which described the book as possibly the best case for world peace ever assembled. So what? Even my kids could make a great case for world peace. But how will it come? The reality is that it will never come because the sinful desires that lie in the human heart. The desires of pride, greed, and the desire for power override our desire for peace. Never mind our ability to achieve peace.
Peace will only come with the war to end all wars. When Jesus Christ, the prince of Peace, will return triumphant, and overthrow all that stands opposed to Him. And consequently all that stands opposed to his rule of peace, righteousness, justice and joy. In His death and through His resurrection Jesus triumphed over all that stood opposed to Him. He has won the battle and the end of the campaign is not in doubt. Until then we His people must preach the gospel of peace with god through Jesus Christ and seek to live out that gospel of peace in our lives.
August 23, 2008
This week has brought more sad news about the behaviour of leading Christian figures. First there was the news that Todd Bentley who has been the leading figure in the ‘Lakeland Revival’ has been forced to stand down after filing for divorce from his wife and admitting to an inappropriate relationship with another woman. Then there was the admission from Michael Guglielmucci whose song the Healer written when he was diagnosed with cancer had been an inspiration to many people admitted that he never actually had cancer- the whole thing had been fabricated.
Since I have been studying 1 Corinthians so much of what Paul writes there came to mind as I considered these sad episodes. Notably the dangers that there are in promoting the cult of celebrity Christian leaders and the need for spiritual wisdom and discernment. But perhaps one the in Corinthians came to mind more than others. And that is there is a theme running through Corinthians where Paul seeks to shame the ‘super-spiritual’ Corinthians by telling them that even the people of the world are wiser and more discerning than they are. it’s not a major theme in the letter but read it carefully and you will see that appears at several points e.g 5:1; 6:1-6; 14:23. And it is indeed to our shame as Christians where we have less common sense let alone spiritual discernment than the world around us. It must appear to the world that we are not people of faith but just plain gullible.
We live in an evangelical sub-culture where we need to reassess the nature of true Christian experience and true spirituality. That will require boldness and a willingness to stand up to those who would bully others in the light not of plain scriptural teaching but their so-called experience. We live in a day when the principle of sola scriptura not only needs to be recovered but also when we need to consider carefully how the rule of Scripture is to be applied.
August 23, 2008
I remain slightly bemused about the level of interest there is on this side of the Atlantic about the US presidential race. Somehow I can’t think that the Americans will get that excited about our next election. Part of the wild excitement has been over Barack Obama (or should it be O’Bama now that his Irish roots have been revealed). He certainly is a crowd pleaser and I see that in the US some even speak of him in messianic terms.
Yet despite all the brouhaha surrounding Obama and the general sense that the Republicans are in trouble this has not seemingly been reflected in the polls. There it appears the two candidates neck in neck. An interesting piece in the TImes reflects on why Obama is not way out ahead. It offers a fews suggestions including a holiday which allowed McCain to regain momentum, racial issues and the fact that people are a bit weary of him already- anyone for a chorus of ‘four more years?’ But it suggests that one of the key weaknesses of Obama’s campaign has been that no-one is completely certain of what he stands for. At the minute McCain’s answers are clear and concise, while Obama’s nuanced answers leave the public uncertain of what he stands for- witness the question on abortion at the Saddleback forum.
It left me reflecting not on politics but the gospel. That where the gospel gets a grip upon people’s lives is where it is clearly proclaimed. Sadly today the inability of churches to declare the gospel boldly and to vacillate in its answers to many pressing questions has left society confused. Many people are left to today unclear what the gospel is and what the church stands for. Whilst the church in its ongoing quest for ‘relevance’ has created simply a fog of misunderstanding.
Obama’s campaign might yet lose its way in a fog of confusion- as John Kerry’s did last time. His current predictament should serve as a warning to the church in our day. If we want to speak to our society then we must speak clearly so that people might firmly grasp the gospel and see clearly what the church stands for. If not our campaign too will continue to lose its way.
August 21, 2008
I came across this very moving quote by Matthew Henry on the creation of woman in Genesis 2. He writes,’ the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.’ It is beautiful vision of the complementarity of the sexes and the mutual responsibilities within marriage.
August 16, 2008
Julie Burchill, the British journalist, has always proved something of a conundrum to many people- see her entry in wikipedia just to get a flavour of this. But in the Guardian, of all places, she has this article today which is written with her usual passion and to my mind fair degree of insight. journalisthttp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/14/religion.anglicanism
August 10, 2008
Gripe of the week or perhaps comic turn of the week- Richard Dawkins complains about being misrepresented- now he knows how it feels. www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article4485275.ece
August 10, 2008
I haven’t been blogging for a while- summer holidays and all that. Of course during my unnoticed absence many things haven’t changed. Random House publishers have decided to postpone indefinitely (read cancelled) The Jewel of Medina, the debut novel by journalist Sherry Jones. It is a novel about the prophet Muhammed’s child bride. The reason they cite is that they have been warned that the novel may incite some Muslim’s to violence.
I cannot help but compare this step with the kind of furore that follows every blasphemous piece directed towards the Christian faith. There we constantly hear the message that Christians can be offended if they want this is about freedom of speech. But clearly we are being told here that freedom of speech is not really a right worth defending. Freedom of speech has its limits- a potential threat and the literati will go running. Perhaps we’ll yet have public readings of the book. Or maybe those champions of free speech who so excoriate Christianity will publish extracts and broadcast extracts- anyone for television rights?! Random House have said someone else is free to publish the novel. Watch this space as the champions of free speech stride forward.
June 7, 2008
According to the Time’s today, ‘The policies of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have helped to generate a spiritual, civic and economic crisis in Britain, according to an important Church of England report.’ One is tempted to say, ‘welcome to the 21st century.’ Unfortunately it has taken the CofE a decade to catch up with the rest of us. Blair’s Christianity was nothing but posturing whilst his government and that of Brown have eroded the moral fabric of our society. Meantime whilst the Christian voice has been hushed up the voices of other faiths, of secularism and downright sinful behaviour have been encouraged at every turn,
The report will of course bring the government out with all guns blazing. Like most governments they only love the church when it says what they want to hear. They do not long for the church to be a prophetic voice. It will of course also bring out the secularists who want Christianity silenced- in the name of tolerance of course!
It would be great if this report created a real debate about the true state of British society and raised honest questions about the violent, drunken, immoral, greedy, culture which is Britain today. Sadly, I doubt that it will.
June 4, 2008
I’ve mentioned this book before but at last have managed to read the whole thing. Its a funny little book in appearance- slightly bigger than A6 in size. But the content is great as Sproul sets out a biblical and historical view of the atonement. He sets this view out very clearly and very simply. It is good book for anyone to read in this day when this view of the atonement is being undermined. Certainly it would be helpful for anyone seeking a clear understanding of the biblical view and/or anyone young in the Christian faith.