Marching for Allah (3): a clash of rationalities


Over the last couple of days we’ve been thinking about the idea that what we call rationality is actually, in part, cultural, and so different cultures will have different rationalities. One example of the difference between rationalities came across starkly in a public Christian-Islam debate I attended recently in Melbourne. It was done well. It was set up as an irenic dialogue about the differences in our ideas of God. The two participants were allowed to speak freely, and each responded respectfully to the other side. But in the end it was most valuable as an exercise in how difficult cross-cultural communication can be sometimes. I don’t pretend to be a dispassionate observer, but for my part I was impressed with the way the Christian debater engaged. He was soft-spoken and difficult to provoke. His arguments were careful, they relied on firm evidence, and he was very measured in his statements. If he didn’t know something, he said so. He committed only to say what he could demonstrate. And he wasn’t afraid to acknowledge that his opponents made good points from time to time. For the most part, I found his case compelling. (more…)

Evangelizing Mormons

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

There is an Evangelist at our church. His name is Ed. I have never really had a concrete position on whether Scripture prescribes an “office” of Evangelist at the local church. The reason I am thinking it through now is that I never encountered such a person at the four previous churches I worked at or attended. So I assumed nothing—positive or negative. Even when I preached through Ephesians 4, I somewhat glossed over the issue in verse 11. (more…)

→ A barrier to honesty


Tullian Tchividjian on ‘accountability groups’ that wind up focussing on our own struggles with sin more than our saviour:

Setting aside the obvious objection that Christ settled all our accounts, once for all, such groups inevitably start with the narcissistic presupposition that Christianity is all about cleaning up and doing your part. These groups focus primarily (in my experience, almost exclusively) on our sin, and not on our Savior. Because of this, they breed self-righteousness, guilt, and the almost irresistible temptation to pretend, or to be less than honest. Little or no attention is given to the gospel. There’s no reminder of what Christ has done for our sin—cleansing us from its guilt and power—and of the resources that are already ours by virtue of our union with Him. These groups thrive, either intentionally or not, on a “do more, try harder” moralism that robs us of the joy and freedom Jesus paid dearly to secure for us. When the goal becomes conquering our sin instead of soaking in the conquest of our Savior, we actually begin to shrink spiritually.


Marching for Allah (1): what should we say about the Muslim protests?


Last week I awoke to the news of an Islamic protest march through the centre of Sydney. It wasn’t an entirely peaceful protest. I am Australian, but I live in Africa where this kind of thing is common, and often worse. Earlier this year, one of my students from Nigeria was unable to attend the first two weeks of term because his town was literally under siege by Muslim insurgents who were burning churches and the homes of Christians. No doubt the Christians were doing their own share of insurgency also. Nevertheless, it was still shocking for me to see pictures of Muslim protestors marching through Hyde Park to uphold the honour of their prophet Muhammad. One photograph showed a child holding a banner that read, “Behead all those who insult the prophet!” How should Christians respond? (more…)

Making disciples by planting

Pastoral Ministry

Our task of making disciples is an urgent one. I want to look afresh at the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus to “make disciples of all nations” and its implications for church-planting today. (more…)

XV: the Bible in 15


If you’re anything like me, setting aside a time to read God’s word each day is an inexplicable challenge. I want to, but it keeps getting squeezed out by less important things. But let me ask you this: do you have any points in your day where you have just 15 minutes spare? Sitting on a bus, waiting in a queue, stealing a quiet moment while kids eat lunch? (more…)

The mundane work of the Spirit

Everyday Ministry, Pastoral Ministry, Sola Panel

I burst into tears.

Not true! Sorry Jean, I don’t burst into tears (at least can’t remember the last time), but I get moist at the corners of my eyes quite often! For example, just yesterday… (more…)

Live light in 25 words

Everyday Ministry, Life

You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. (1 Pet 1:23)

The Bible Society Australia have identified that only a relatively small number of Australian Christians engage with God on a daily basis—they claim 1 in 5. For people who love the God of Word, this is more than a little disappointing.1 (more…)

Of God’s gifts and chocolate torte

Everyday Ministry, Life, Sola Panel

Jess’s chocolate torte

I burst into tears.1 It was one of those comments made occasionally by even the most sensitive of husbands as he dares to go where female friends fear to tread: “Jess made some yummy gluten-free sandwiches for the staff meeting today. You should get the recipe!” (more…)

Freedom of religion and thought

Life, Sola Panel

The theologian and social critic David Wells suggests that we have seen a significant rise in the language of victimhood in both society and the church. He suggests ‘playing the victim’ comes from being overly sensitive to individual rights. We often excuse our behaviour by noticing every insult or injustice that comes from others. Wells warns that when everyone is a victim—as it seems many feel—it trivialises real victims. (more…)

Judgement in the words of Jeremiah


It is a hardy adventurer who decides to brave the book of Jeremiah. Yet we need to hear what Jeremiah has to tell us because a gospel emptied of the wrath of God is a gospel emptied of truth and power. (more…)

The Renewed Pastor


The name and ministry of Philip Hacking may not be well known to readers of The Briefing. (This reviewer certainly did not know of Philip before reading this book.) To set the record straight, Philip Hacking has been a faithful minister of the gospel for more than 40 years in the Church of England, serving in the parishes of St. Helens, Edinburgh and Sheffield. The essays making up The Renewed Pastor survey various aspects of pastoral ministry and were presented to Philip in appreciation of his ministry. (more…)

Love and Subjugation


Last week, I wrote Submission and the Clash of Cultures. This week I want to follow it by writing about subjugation and the clash of cultures. For in website and blog comments regarding last week’s article the clash of world views became very obvious. The word ‘submission’ is, as I suggested, the presenting issue of something much bigger; it is a difference over “the nature of marriage, of human relationships and humanity itself”. (more…)