Agreeing with the opposition



It’s not often that I agree with Bob Carr, the former Labour Premier of New South Wales. He’s a pro-abortion, pro-embryonic stem cell research and small ‘l’ liberal. (Why do so many small ‘l’ liberals join the Labour party? BTW, I really don’t need this question answered.) But I think in ‘Rights charter like a dead parrot’, he gets it spot on.


The secret to getting along



The weekend before last, I spent a wonderful time away with the folk at Christchurch Currumbin up on the beautiful Gold Coast. It was an enormously encouraging time as we looked together at what the Bible has to say about the resurrection. On the Friday night, the meeting leader exhorted us to love each other:

You’re about to spend a weekend together. You’ll eat together, sleep in rooms separated by not-so-thick walls, share bathrooms together and be with each other 24/7. This isn’t like chatting after church on Sunday. This is going to mean learning to be gracious and patient with each other.

Well, they were certainly very gracious and patient with each other (and with me, which is remarkable indeed). But it made me wonder: what is the secret to living together in the same space without biting each others’ heads off?


Contextualization vs. chameleonization

Everyday Ministry


I’ve been thinking a bit lately about contextualization—not so much the contextualization of language (‘charms’ and ‘calms’ and so on), but the contextualization of lifestyle: becoming “all things to all people” (as in 1 Corinthians 9:22).

My thoughts were sparked by an evening we spent with our next door neighbours recently. As Dave and I were clearing things away at the end of the night, I reflected on the evening and the way that I’d approached it.

Before our guests arrived, I had chosen an outfit that approximated the style of clothes my neighbour wears, I made an extra-gourmet salad and I bought a couple of fancy cheeses. Over dinner and afterwards, I spent a lot of time talking about mortgages and extensions and consumer products. I had also talked a lot about work—the work I used to do (before kids)—in an instinctive effort to establish the kind of education and career credentials that might be taken more seriously than my current job as a full-time mum. And finally (this is the killer one!) I found myself squirming in my seat, wanting to change the subject, when they asked my four-year-old daughter what her favourite thing in the world was, and she answered, “Jesus”.

All this got me wondering what’s the difference between contextualization (or whatever word you want to use to describe doing what it says in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23) and chameleonization (or whatever word you use to describe not doing what it says in Matthew 5:13-16)?


If I said I wasn’t a hypocrite, would you believe me?

Life, Sola Panel


We were looking at Luke 6 in church the other day, and it got me thinking about hypocrites. More particularly, am I one?

The old gag suggests that I am: “The church is not full of hypocrites—there’s always room for one more!”

On this understanding, hypocrisy is an unavoidable description of the normal Christian life. We all say one thing, but do another. We preach against lying, and yet find ourselves telling porkies. We rail against greed and materialism, and then chat about it all the way home in our Audi A4.


Straight talk on John Calvin: Paul Helm talks to Peter Hastie

Professor Paul Helm held the JI Packer Chair in Theology and Philosophy at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada from 2001-2004. Before that, Professor Helm was Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion at King’s College in the University of London. Before joining King’s College in 1993, he was Reader in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. Educated in Worcester College, Oxford, Professor Helm has written many articles and books, mainly focusing on the philosophy of religion and Christian doctrine in the Reformed tradition. He is married and has five children. Among his many books are The Providence of God, Eternal God, Faith with Reason, Faith and Understanding, Calvin and the Calvinists, The Beginnings, The Callings, The Last Things and his most recent major work, John Calvin’s Ideas (Oxford University Press 2004). Peter Hastie spoke to Professor Helm in Vancouver.


Wesley, charms and church planting (Part III)

Everyday Ministry


Drawing the longest bow yet in this series, I am going to attempt to connect child-raising techniques and the history of word changes in Wesley’s ‘O for a thousand tongues’ in order to talk about contextualizing the gospel. If you’re as interested as I am in how I’m going to do that, read on.


Borers in the pulpit?

Pastoral Ministry

Boring sermons are often the bane of church life. However, it need not be so. Rob Smith offers some reflections on how preachers can minister the word of God more faithfully and more effectively.


In defence of doctrine

The whole business of doing ‘doctrine’ has become quite unfashionable in the Christian world. But, as Michael Jensen argues, nothing is more important and essential because the gospel itself demands it. (more…)

The tract is back

Resource Talk, Sola Panel

Quick quiz: of all Matthias Media’s different resources—now more than 200 of them—which do you think is the all-time bestseller? Is it:


This is not real church


I suspect I might be the ‘elderly relative’ referred to in the article by Tony Payne on ‘This is not real church’. But even if I’m not, I want to comment on the change of ‘doing church’ over the years and the cut-down New Testament church of today. (more…)

An abominable word

Up front, Sola Panel

When I hear the word ‘abomination’, a vivid image comes to mind. Perhaps it’s from a comedy sketch on TV. I see a man dressed in old-fashioned black clothes, with a black hat and, in reference to some aspect of modern culture (perhaps homosexuality), he declares in a slow, but passionate voice, “It is an abor-min-ay-shon”.

What is a tree for?

Up front, Sola Panel

A tree is good (Gen 1:12).

A tree is beautiful (Gen 2:9).

A tree is for food (Gen 1:29).

A tree is a blessing from God for his creation, even in those wild places where no human being has set foot (Job 40:20-22). (more…)