OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.

My Suffering Is All Part of God's Plan

Sometimes people are lone survivors amidst a field of death and suffering, as I put it in a recent post, and this status can create a problem for one’s faith in God. How could an all good God allow such suffering? That is essentially the problem of evil, as theologians have labeled it.

Theology and the Sunday congregation

But I probably gave myself too much freedom to explore some of the literary questions that it raises.

I’d like to pick up on this comment – what assumptions do we make about the average sunday congregation? Have they all read Hitchens et al, and are concerned about the authenticity of passages of Scripture? Or is discussing issues such as this in this context introducing doubts where there were none? Maybe it’s right anyway to make people aware of recent biblical scholarship?

My hunch is that the only people interested in such literary questions are theologians…

Re: John Piper and the imputation of a real moral righteousness

James originally posted this lengthy response to a piece on John Piper and imputed righteousness as a comment. It has been reposted as an independent article.

Is Richard Dawkins like Jesus?

In a This much I know piece at guardian.co.uk the British philosopher A.C. Grayling writes: ‘I would imagine Jesus was a kind of Jewish reformer. If you were looking for an equivalent to the figure you dimly perceive through the gospels it would probably be a Richard Dawkins.’

Why did Jesus write on the ground?

The story of the woman caught in adultery who is dragged by the scribes and Pharisees to Jesus for judgment (John 7:53-8:11) is a fascinating one, for various reasons. I made extensive use of it in a sermon on gentleness at Crossroads in the Hague yesterday – I love the way that Jesus stills the storm and so gently restores the woman’s humanity. But I probably gave myself too much freedom to explore some of the literary questions that it raises.

What has the emerging church to do with the Alpha Course?

I asked the question in a post about the future of the European church regarding the sustainability of the Holy Trinity Brompton model of church-planting: 'Will its Alpha course theology – a powerful fusion of classic evangelical certitude and charismatic fervour – remain forever impervious to postmodern or post-evangelical critique?' Josh Rowley added a comment in which he suggested that Alpha in the US was 'more a passing fad than something sustainable', and added: 'I would add that its theology seems to be warmed-over, garden-variety evangelicalism—blissfully unaware of the critique of its hermeneutics, ecclesiology, eschatology, missiology, and soteriology that has been offered by missional and emergent thinkers.'

John Piper and the imputation of a real moral righteousness

Reading through John Piper’s response to N.T. Wright, The Future of Justification (see also Piper’s objections to Wright’s ‘good news’), and not having much of a background in Reformed theology, I found myself repeatedly asking where the idea that the real moral righteousness of God is imputed to those who are in Christ actually comes from. Although admittedly Piper has written a great deal elsewhere about the doctrine (167), I found the main exegetical chapter of the book (163-180) remarkably flimsy; and although I have set out below my immediate response to it, I can’t help thinking that I must have missed something somewhere.

Martin Robinson on shifts in the European church

Martin Robinson (National Director of Together in Mission) is sounding upbeat about the church in the UK and Europe. In a short video clip that can be found on the Roxburgh Missional Network site, he suggests that although churches still face considerable difficulties and challenges, there has emerged over the last few years a new confidence and purpose that give grounds for optimism. He points to three significant developments.

Lone Survivors and the Weakness of God

Recently, a Yemeni airliner crashed into the Indian Ocean. 152 people died; one girl survived unharmed. In war, I have heard of similar instances where one fighter survives while everyone else around him dies. This experience of being the only survivor weighs heavily on one’s heart, I’m sure.

The modern art of defacing the Bible

The Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow is currently hosting an exhibition called Made in God’s Image, in which the artists Anthony Schrag and David Malone ‘have explored faith and sexuality with members of The Metropolitain Community Church, Quest, Al Jannah Muslim Group and individuals from a range of faiths’. One exhibit, proposed by the Metropolitan Community Church, consists of a copy of the Bible (from the picture it appears to be a Family Faith and Values Bible), some pens, and an invitation to people to write themselves into sacred text: ‘If you feel you have been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it.’ Perhaps not surprisingly people have responded with enthusiastic profanity and obscenity (see the article in the Times for the lurid details).

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