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No such thing as secondary!

When it comes to the Bible, is there actually such thing as secondary issues? I don't think so. Rick Warren has recently said that we need to stop 'bickering' over secondary issues (in context he means ordaining women as pastors - something he has done recently - amongst other things). I don't like this phrase. I don't like it because I don't like the attitude towards God's word that it permits in people - even the most well-meaning of whom have hearts that are deceitful and wicked! Let's take the ordination of women issue for instance. Why would this be called a 'secondary issue'? Well, being a 'secondary issue' having knowledge of or an opinion about it does not affect one's ability to trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and thus be saved. Indeed, you can even be wrong about this particular issue in practise and still be saved. Yes, if you genuinely, sincerely, with all conviction and true devotion to Christ and submission to
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Worry and Walking on Water

Matthew 14 says:  22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of littl

Who Did Jesus Die For?

In 1975 Patti Smith exploded onto the music scene becoming an instant pop culture icon whose popularity, respect, and influence have stood the test of time. You can imagine that she must have made a pretty good first impression, then. Well, she certainly made a memorable first impression. The opening line of the first song on her debut album begins "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine". And to a largely Christianised culture, that is one bold, emphatic, and fully considered statement to make!  But it raises a question, doesn't it? If Jesus didn't die for Patti Smith, who did he die for? Christians certainly like to say things like Jesus died for the sins of the world. Is Patti Smith misguided? Might Jesus have in fact died for her sins? John's Gospel, specifically chapter three and verse sixteen is perhaps, above all, the most formative, or at least the most foundational place our understanding of an answer to that question would come from. It reads:

Purpose, Predestination and the Aesthetics of Conception

As I've mentioned before, beauty isn't a thing or even the quality of a thing. Beauty is the relationship between two dimensions, working together in harmony. We call this relationship beautiful because it satisfies, brings pleasure, and is enjoyable. We are most glad when things work as they should. The two dimensions that conspire to together to incite beauty are the moral realm and the aesthetic realm. One is conceived in the mind, the other is produced in the material. In a previous post I wrote the following: " The relationship between the moral dimension and the aesthetic dimension is vitally important. In fact, the aesthetic dimension depends upon there being a moral dimension and cannot exist without it. A moral dimension can exist without an aesthetic and actually, necessarily precedes an aesthetic. Yet the moral desires an aesthetic. And its value (beauty) depends upon, in large part, achieving an aesthetic expression (though not always, and not entirely). For in

John Everett Millais and the Problem with Jesus

I really enjoy the art of the Pre-Raphaelites. If you don't know who they are, you should absolutely look them up. If you're a Christian, you might be interested to know that one of the founders of the movement was Dante Gabrielle Rosetti, the brother of Christina. They were a group of young, talented painters, sculptors, and poets who hob-nobbed with the Victorian social elite. They are historically significant as well as artistically significant, and you probably couldn't imagine how influential they have been on the culture we inhabit right this very moment. But more on that in another post. But for now, you can think of them as the Beatles of the art world. Naturally gifted, but with a liberal sense of purpose and desire to move culture, to test, to challenge, and to see what happens when cultural norms are abandoned. Less thoughtful, more experimental. A bit like we are today... Anyway, even if you've never heard of the Pre-Raphaelites, you've probably seen thi

I Really Like Music

Apart from the word of God itself, with the work of the Spirit in a person to inspire the faith to believe, there are certain things amongst the created order, that really serve to prove the existence of God to us and to stimulate devotion to him. These are usually pretty universally appreciated things. We all love music, we all enjoy food and no-one in their right mind can observe the beauty of country or coast with indifference. But again, for most of us, there is usually one thing that captures our imagination more than the other things. You know, the things we turn into hobbies, pursue as professions or vocations and those which become part of our identities and what we are known by. For me, this is music. Music generally is appreciated from birth. But it takes a little bit of growing up to become a true fan. It takes time for us to develop enough discernment, to be able to define our particular tastes, and to be ready for true appreciation. Yet when we are ready, even though not a

Feed Your Head: A Thought for the New Year

One of the fun things about having children is that you get to share with them all the experiences that you enjoyed yourself, as a child. Scarlett has always enjoyed music. Rather indiscriminately, but nevertheless, she enjoys the phenomenon very much. We bought her a cd player for her room for her birthday just a few days ago and it's been a great chance to share with her some of my own favourite records. Album art is, of course, a big influence in what she wanted to try out, but she has ended up digging out some real classics that I was able to take great joy in rediscovering with her. She's particularly fond of Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, some Dolly Parton (Katie's input), and today, we enjoyed together Jefferson Airplane. The song in particular which she gravitated toward was the song White Rabbit. You can listen to it here . I'm particularly fond of this song because I saw Patti Smith perform it live many years ago and she really spun out the intro, crawling about on