Atheism must advertise (Part 1)

The British Humanist Association is running a bus campaign. I had heard about it a month or so back, and was bemused; I thought the slogan they were running was a bit daft, but only a bit. But recently I saw a bus in Oxford with the advert upon it.


Surely goodness and mercy

How are you feeling about the year that’s just begun? Are you optimistic and ready for its demands? Or are you anxious and stressed, worried that you won’t be able to cope with the months ahead?


Book review: Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

It’s mid-January, and already I have read what could be my best book for 2009—although I have a suspicion it might not be for everyone. However, before you stop reading this, thinking you might be one of those it’s not for, if you are involved in any sort of pastoral work (from church leadership to running a small group to one-to-one personal follow-up), this is the book for you.


Not a clue

I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me. But it did. It was almost funny in an appalling way.

I was recently part of an interview panel for a fairly senior position at a Christian institution. We were hoping to appoint a Christian person to the position, but the realities of the situation dictated that we were going to have to settle for someone who was at least comfortable to support the Christian stance of the institution.


Redundant prayer?

The Church of England in the UK has released a prayer for those who have been made redundant (along with other prayers for people affected in other ways by the financial crisis). It has been fascinating to hear various clergy on the radio here in the UK answer the question ‘why?’ as people have queried how this prayer can be of any benefit to anyone. It’s a question that has at its heart the deeper question of ‘Why bother praying at all?’, and so provides a great opportunity to call people to repentance and faith in Jesus. It hasn’t been used as such, as far as I can tell, but it is always difficult to know how people have been edited. Certainly the impression given by most of the sound bites I’ve heard or read have gone along the lines of, “We need to give people the words to share with God how they are feeling”.


How do you unmask depravity?

We recently tackled the important but somewhat unfashionable doctrine of total depravity in The Briefing, and, in response, received a letter asking about the place of preaching the law with regards to revealing sin. Let me post the letter in full and then open up the discussion:

Outdoing one another

In the old days when Al Stewart used to be fit and I used to run ahead of him, he used to say how competitive I was. Or it may be that I used to complain how competitive he was; I can’t remember now. All we were doing was going for our daily 12 km run, and he hated losing. Me, I didn’t mind losing. But I didn’t enjoy coming second, and there were only two of us.


Highlights of 2008

Today we speak to some of our Panellists about their highlights of 2008.

What are the top three reference or ‘standard work’ books you would recommend for the basic Christian library? That is, what would you want a new and thoughtful Christian who is committed to growing to have on their shelf?


Distance education and a fruitful walk

‘Any student, anywhere, anytime’ is the unofficial slogan of the theological education by distance ‘movement’. Flexibility, quality and the potential for local adaptation by locals have seen exciting growth in the provision of theological education throughout the world, made possible largely in the 21st century by widespread internet access. (The previous technology of photocopier and mail service has been, and is still, effective in many parts of the world.)


An interview with Nicole Starling

Today we interview Nicole Starling.

How did you come to Christ?

I first heard about Jesus through my Scripture teacher at school when I was five years old. My parents weren’t Christians, but were happy for me to attend Scripture, and even started sending me along to Sunday school (at the local Baptist church) at about the same time. I decided when I was about six that I wanted to follow the example of my Scripture teacher and become a Christian. I don’t think I understood everything at the time, but I know my decision to love and follow Jesus was genuine. By God’s incredible grace, it was only a couple of months after that that my parents were invited along to a Sunday school service at church. (They used to just drop me off and leave, so they hadn’t attended the church up to that point.) My father was an atheist, but miraculously God used a verse quoted from the Bible during the sermon to convict him of his sin and need for Jesus. There was a complete turnaround for him from that day on. My mother wasn’t sure what was going on at first, but a friend (who had originally invited us along to playgroup, Sunday school, church, etc) followed her up by dropping a Bible off at our house one day and telling her to read John’s Gospel. She became a Christian as she read through it. From that point, my faith grew as I was raised in a Christian family, with my parents discipling me and teaching me how to follow Jesus.


The best defence is a good offence

You’re sitting in church feeling a little more nervous than normal. If you had known that the sermon was going to be about that, you might have decided to stay in bed this morning. But there it is, front and centre on the service outline. What should you do? Thinking at a speed that would normally startle you, you hit upon the perfect strategy: talk to others about ‘it’ before they talk to you. If you start the conversation and talk about how you struggle with ‘it’ before they raise the topic, you’re home free! People will think you’re godly and open, and you’ll be able to walk away feeling good about yourself without having to change a thing. The best defence is a good offence.


Conversion, regeneration and getting things done

In April last year I underwent a profound conversion experience. Prior to April 2008, I was stressed—very stressed. I had many different spheres of life that seemed to be conflicting and drowning me; my family, my work and my friendships were full of what seemed like an endless array of commitments, requirements and open loops. It was causing sleeplessness and a general overall anxiety that was difficult to pin down, but that was very draining.


Who are you listening to?

Welcome back to The Sola Panel for 2009. As Australia slowly begins to wake up from its self-induced summer coma, The Sola Panel are trying desperately to restore their IQs and start writing again. (more…)