How the apostle Paul learned to be content in every situation

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After more than a year of the pandemic many of us feel tired — and for good reason. Many have experienced physical illness, bereavement, unemployment, mental health difficulties or isolation.

Those of us lucky enough to keep our jobs or business are working longer hours and/or juggling homeschooling.

If ever there was a time to listen to the Bible’s teaching on contentment it’s now:

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in…

Were sacrifices only for unintentional sins in the Tanakh (or Old Testament)?

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Rabbinic Jews and Christians agree the sacrificial system of the Tanakh (for Christians, the Old Testament) is currently obsolete. However, they differ on what replaced it.

Did blood sacrifice atone for unintentional sins only? Are prayer and repentance sufficient for God’s forgiveness? Or does atonement require the death of another in my place?

Rabbi Tovia Singer, as ever, is an interesting conversation partner. His article challenging the Christian view of atonement is a useful framework for our discussion.

Is sacrifice necessary for atonement?

A good place to start is Leviticus 17:10-11

For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I have therefore…

Standing with anti racists without needing 100% agreement on politics

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The England football (soccer) team’s decision to take the knee in the recent Euro 2020 (in 2021!) championship proved controversial. The England team were keen to clarify they were not making a political statement. They only wanted to affirm their opposition to racism.

But the team was booed by some of their supporters, and received disapproving comments from the UK’s Home Secretary. The controversy mirrors discussions going on within Christianity in the past few years. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention, have argued Christianity is incompatible with critical race theory.

Can Christians stand together with anti-racist movements sharing their opposition…

Teaching our children about the creativity and generosity of God

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Christian books for children are often a random collection of Bible stories or a series of morality tales.

We recently read a fantastic exception — Trillia Newbell’s God’s Very Good Idea. The key message of the book is how God created and is redeeming people from all nations.

Moving away from disconnected Bible stories

The past 10 years have seen a growing collection of Bible overview books for children. Of course, one highlight is Sally Lloyd-Jones’ Jesus Story Book Bible, depicting Jesus as the centre of the Bible’s message.

Kevin De Young’s The Biggest Story made a good attempt at teaching biblical theology to children. But…

Responding to Rabbi Tovia Singer’s criticisms of Matthew 1:22–23

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Christians around the world, following Matthew 1:22–23, read this verse from Isaiah as a prophecy about Jesus’ birth:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin [almah] will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel [God with us]. (Isaiah 7:14, NIV)

However, many have challenged this claim in Matthew’s Gospel. Rabbi Tovia Singer, director of Outreach Judaism, sums up the main criticisms:

Matthew, however, not only changed the meaning of the word הָעַלְמָה to apply this verse from the Jewish Scriptures to the virgin birth, he also completely ripped Isaiah 7:14 out…

What we can learn from the example of Jonathan Edwards

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Studies have shown extroverts were more likely to experience mental health problems during the lockdown. Thankfully we’re beginning to return to normal life.

Yet this brings new challenges — particularly for many introverts less enthusiastic about returning to the social aspects of Church life. But we can bring other gifts to the community. I will look to the example of Jonathan Edwards for inspiration on how introverts can contribute to church.

Introverts, extroverts and revival

God has always used people with a range of personalities and backgrounds. The Great Awakenings of the 18th Century were no different. John Wesley, a British evangelist and founder…

Is Bertrand Russell’s argument valid?

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Russell’s Teapot — the argument

Most discussions between atheists and Christians at some point reach the issue of burden of proof. Bertrand Russell’s argument is commonly cited:

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake.

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by…

What the text and Jewish tradition show

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Reading Isaiah 53 (technically Isaiah 52:13-53:12) for the first time was shocking. Could this really be in the Hebrew Bible? The servant’s mission was so close to that of Jesus in the Gospels:

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5, NIV)

This chapter raised for me two important questions:

  • Are the parallels with Jesus just too good to be true? How can this have been written between 400–600 years before the time of Jesus?
  • How have…

Should the worldview of some atheists be classified as religious?

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For most atheists I’ve met in the “real world”, religion is of little relevance. Yet a minority spend much of their time discussing religion online and on social media. Their devotion, to some, appears religious.

One of the key characteristics of this group is the commitment to a naturalistic worldview. I will explore the extent to which these worldviews should be categorised as religious or not. But our first challenge is to define naturalism and religion which is far from straightforward.

Is bald a hairstyle?

For half of my life, I was an atheist, I “lacked belief in gods”. But if you had asked…

Lessons from Moses on avoiding burnout

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Gordon Gecko, in the movie Wall Street, proclaimed “lunch is for wimps.” Although we have moved on from the extremes of the 1980s, the need to look busy remains a marker of status, not least in the church as noted by the pastor, Eugene Peterson:

I live in a society in which crowded schedules and harassed conditions are evidence of importance. I want to be important, so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions. When others notice, they acknowledge my significance and my vanity is fed. The busier I am, the more important I am. (Eugene Peterson, Christianity Today)

Nick Meader

I’m interested in the application of psychology to theology and Christian living.

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