1 Peter 3:14-16

Bible 101

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

As I write this, I have just  returned from visiting an elderly  member of my congregation in hospital. She was doing okay, but she’s not getting any younger, nor getting any healthier. In fact, she is preparing not just for death but also for suffering. However, these are preparations she feels confident to make because (as she pointed out to me) Jesus, time and time again, warns his disciples of the persecution and suffering that is likely to accompany their confession of him. The apostles continue that theme—in word and deed!—and Peter, in his first letter, gives it great and careful attention. (more…)

Forgiveness in the words of Jeremiah


In the first leg of our journey through Jeremiah we focused on the man and his preaching of judgement. We will now do a bit of touring through the middle chapters, but most of our time will be spent on just half a verse—a promise:

→ 5 reflections from a life-time


Paul Barnett—New Testament scholar, author, former bishop of North Sydney—on 5 epiphanies he has had over his 55 years of being a Christian regarding the historical reliability of the New Testament.

So why are these men who fill the pages of Josephus forgotten today and Jesus is a household word?  It’s because history is full of people who blaze briefly like comets and are then forgotten.  But Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man who forgave sins, who healed the sick and raised the dead, who entered Jerusalem as its Messiah-king, whose teaching on love and forgiveness was profound and unheard of, and who himself was resurrected from the dead.  Without the resurrection Jesus would have been just another mistaken prophet whose death guaranteed his relegation to obscurity, like the shadowy figure of the Teacher of Righteousness, the founder of the Dead Sea Sect, whose name we do not even know.

As Paul concludes, “I could not reject the historical reliability of the New Testament, even if I wanted to”.

Exodus 34:6-7

Bible Brief

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

In one of the most spectacular examples of passing the buck in the history of humanity, Aaron explained Israel’s sinfulness in worshipping a golden calf just a month after making a covenant with God like this:

Sanctification is not about progress

Thought, Sola Panel

Well, sanctification is not primarily about progress—but I thought I’d get you with the title!

I dislike how so much evangelical discussion speaks of sanctification primarily in terms of progress in holiness. (more…)

Our messy individualism


One of the more contentious topics tied up with the ongoing “gay marriage” debate in our western society is the question of adoption—that is, the adoption and fostering of children by homosexual couples. At one level, the concern is a very pragmatic one: why, the argument goes, should we be denying children loving homes? (more…)

Child-bearing for the uninitiated

Resource Talk

Last time I wrote something for this column, I wrote about a book that deals with problems and questions I face in my own life (God’s Good Design). This time I’m writing about a book that’s not really for me. In Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: Ethics and the beginning of human life, Dr Megan Best writes about the stuff that married (or about-to-get married) people need to know—things like contraception, pregnancy, infertility and IVF. She wrote the book “in response to many requests from Christians who are struggling to find the information they need to think clearly about the morality of reproductive technology” (p. 9). I’m not married and I have no children. I’m hardly the target audience for this book, yet it fascinated me. (more…)

The secret of training

Everyday Ministry

What is so special about Wayne Bennett? Wayne Bennett, for the uninitiated, is one of the most successful rugby league coaches of all time. Before Bennett, St George were a talented collection of chronic under-achievers. With Bennett, they became a team, won the minor premiership in the first year, and won everything the year after that. (more…)

Biblical inerrancy revisted


In the first part of this look at biblical inerrancy, we examined the answers to two questions: “What is the Bible?” and “What is ‘inerrancy’ when it is applied to the Bible?”. We determined that the Bible is God’s words—which have at their heart God’s promises and what flows from them—and that inerrancy makes a statement about God’s trustworthy and truthful character and our faith in him. (more…)

What’s happening to our preaching? A response to John Dickson: Hearing Her Voice: A Case for Women Giving Sermons

Pastoral Ministry, Review, Sola Panel

On Boxing Day 2012 (Christmas Day in Australia), a series of electronic booklets called “Fresh Perspectives on Women in Ministry” was released by Zondervan. One of these booklets was written by John Dickson, a highly respected Australian evangelist, writer, researcher and Anglican minister. Although I have only met John briefly, I have personally appreciated and benefited from much of his written work–both academic and popular. He has been involved in Christian ministry for significantly longer than I have; nevertheless we do share a number of things in common. I write regularly for an organisation (Matthias Media) with whom John has had a long and fruitful association. I am a Sydney Anglican minister myself. I also share similar academic research interests to John, particularly regarding the application of New Testament historical research to contemporary ministry. (more…)

A Mini Christian Bookshop

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

There is no longer any Christian bookshop in the city I live in. But not everyone can, let alone will purchase books online. To generalise, this is particularly true of older generations and of the non-tertiary-educated. (more…)

“What do you saw when…?” Office small talk

Everyday Ministry, Up front

It’s Monday morning. Another working week begins. You walk through the office hallway, thinking about the tasks you need to get done today. You make eye contact with a colleague, and throw out a casual, “Hey, how was your weekend?” He looks tired, and he stares blankly into the distance and replies restlessly, “My girlfriend walked out. She’s been sleeping with my best mate.” Do you automatically respond by wondering what the office boundaries are for over-sharing? Are you filled with compassion or judgement for your colleague? Or do you feel just plain uncomfortable, and blush? What words, if any, do you reply with? (more…)