Hymn of the month

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel


(Updated with correct link to ‘To God Be the Glory’ and link to Sandy’s post on ‘Amazing Grace’.)

Nothing gets a debate going like opinions on church music. But here’s an idea that’s found very little resistance at church; instead, it’s received lots of support: the hymn of the month.

The idea originally came from Covenant Life Church (founded by CJ Mahaney and now pastored by Josh Harris). Rather than relying just on contemporary songs, they saw value in hymns that have proven themselves over generations as true and powerful. They also saw memorizing hymns as one way to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col 3:16). They used a different hymn over 10 months, providing a brief background to each hymn and also making a recording of these hymns available for MP3 download on a free or “pay what you think it is worth basis”.


Problems with ‘the call’

Everyday Ministry

This is the third in our Sola Saturday series on giving up your life for Christ in anticipation of the July/August issue of The Briefing. In our first post, Robert Doyle looked at the concept of giving up your life in the context of worship. Then Dave Andrews tackled the important question “What should I be doing with my time [as I give up my life]?” This week, Philip Miles deals with giving up one’s life in missionary service and the problems with the theology of ‘the call’.


‘Missional lifestyle’: Home (the idolatries)


This is the fourth in Nicole’s series on ‘missional lifestyle’. Read parts 1, 2 and 3.

In my last post, I suggested some of the opportunities that our homes provide for serving God in mission within his world. But a home doesn’t just create opportunities for mission, it also creates opportunities for idolatry. Instead of being a place where God is worshipped and served, home can itself become a god we worship—or a shrine for the worship of other gods.


Loving what God loves

Life, Sola Panel

The UK government has launched a review into occupational Health & Safety laws (OH&S). It seems to be a very popular move. Health is good. Safety is good. But the multiplication of rules purportedly designed to enforce it often leads to madness. (more…)

Hell part 3: Theological reflections on hell

This is the third part of a series on hell. (Read parts 1, 2 [which incorporates 1] and 4.)

The Christian doctrine of hell may be summarized as a real place ruled by God where all who are found outside of Christ at death or at his return experience the eternal conscious pain of punishment, banishment and destruction. It is impossible to write such a frank and sober statement without a number of theological and pastoral issues coming to the fore. The aim of this article is to begin to respond to two of the main theological objections.


Unravelling fundamentalist truth


This is the fourth post in Peter Bolt’s series on the New Atheists. (Read the first, second and third.)

‘Fundamentalism’ is a swear word. It takes many forms, theistic and atheistic. Basically it is rationalism in a different guise.

As is often the case when a word becomes a swear word, there is also a positive sense of the word that lies buried beneath the invective. ‘Queenslander’ means something entirely different on State of Origin night than when I am looking for a holiday destination. A ‘fundamentalist’ (positively speaking) is someone who holds that there are certain ‘fundamentals’ that ought to believed, for these give shape to their world view. In this positive sense, there are ‘fundamentals’ in any branch of knowledge (= science)—whether about God, or not about God.

Within ‘theistic’ circles, there is a ‘fundamentalist’ mindset that includes a very tight definition of what the New Testament (indeed, the Bible) should be like. It goes like this: if the Bible is God’s word and if God is perfect, then the Bible should contain no errors at all. As noble as this sounds, this is to decide the question beforehand. That is, rightly or wrongly, it needs to be recognized for what it is: an a priori argument.


A remarkable woman

Life, Sola Panel

This is the fourth post in Jean’s series on women in the Bible. (Read the first, second and third.)

I met a remarkable woman the other day. To be honest, she’s not the kind of woman I normally feel comfortable with. She’s had an immoral past, a pagan background, and a life of change and crisis. She’s brave, shrewd and outspoken. I might as well come out and say it: she was once a prostitute. But I reckon she knows more about God than any number of women from safe Christian backgrounds (like me).


How should we advertise ourselves and our ministries?

Pastoral Ministry

Two recent events have got me thinking about the way we advertise our Christian activities. Firstly, I was in the market for a new computer, having faced a blank screen a few too many times. Secondly, I was working on a brochure for the work I’m involved in here in Latin America (www.moclam.org). The brochure was for prospective students, interested enquirers and possible supporters.


An attempted collect on the regulation of bodily functions


Why the need for a collect on the regulation of bodily functions?

It’s because people like me do actually pray—often with some fervour—about the bodily functions of the children for whom they are responsible. That’s right, we pray about the absence, presence, frequency, infrequency, texture, colour and quantity of poo. We do it mostly because such things can flag a problem in young children—especially when they are only a few weeks old (at least that’s why I pray about such things; others may have different reasons).


Unravelling ‘scientific’ truth


This is the third post in Peter Bolt’s series on the New Atheists. (Read the first and second.)

There are many slippery words—words that appear to mean so many things, you begin to wonder if they mean anything.

Even ‘science’ can be one that gets quite greasy. It seems pretty slippery in some New Atheist discussion. Without knowing much about science—or Christianity, for that matter—some ordinary people feel that one stamps out the other—or, at least, that they are in serious conflict. On the other hand, a whole string of famous intellectuals (e.g. HG Wells, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, Max Planck, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Jay Gould) have, according to New Atheist Sam Harris, “declared the war between reason and faith to be long over”.1 But Harris is not happy with these intellectuals. He is even less happy with the US National Academy of Sciences, suggesting that science and Christianity should get along, because they are answering different kinds of questions about the world.2 For Sam, this is not good enough; he wants the conflict to continue because, in his mind, science has already won.


The greatest expectations (When God comes to church)

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel, Sola Panel

Once I got to church on time, but God arrived 20 minutes late. On the other hand, occasionally I’ve been to church and God didn’t manage to turn up at all. At least, that’s the impression you’d form if you judged by expectations. (more…)

A theology of milk and other ordinary things

Life, Sola Panel

Last year I read this statement, tucked away in a footnote in a certain august magazine:

… Paul isn’t talking [in 1 Corinthians 10:31] about just any old eating and drinking (as if there is such a thing as a godly and an ungodly way to drink a glass of milk!), but about the specific issue of sharing in fellowship meals with unbelievers.1

The bit in brackets disturbed me (although, as I read on, I was reassured2) because I’m convinced that the Bible has a huge amount to say about seemingly inconsequential things like how to drink a glass of milk. (more…)

‘Missional lifestyle’: Home


This is the third in Nicole’s series on ‘missional lifestyle’. Read parts 1 and 2.

I’m hoping in my next few posts to look at a few different areas of life (home, education, work, sport, etc.). I want to discuss the opportunities that each present for being involved in the lives of others—for their good and their salvation. I also want to examine some of the idolatries that we can be tempted to serve in each of these areas—idolatries that have the potential to destroy both us and our witness by luring our hearts away from Christ. I’m going to start with the most obvious one: our homes.

There are two big opportunities for mission that our homes open up for us: proximity and hospitality.