A mother in Israel

I was out preaching at another church this morning; I’d planned the sermon some weeks ago, before I realised it would be Mothering Sunday. This week I’ve struggled again with a commercialised festival that constructs a romanticised picture to celebrate, ignoring the pain this heaps on so many who for whatever reason cannot fit that picture. Pete Greig tweeted a wonderful litany this morning which captured this remarkably well; my response was to tell a story in the ‘children’s talk’ slot that explored a rather different vision of ‘Biblical motherhood’ than is usually offered. The style is visibly, to me, a second-rate Bob Hartman rip-off, but here it is: ‘A mother in Israel’ There are lots of mothers in the...

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‘In Memory of Her’

In Memory of Her is an idea I’ve been working on for a while; it’s not quite where I wanted it to be before going live, but International Women’s Day seems the right day to launch it. It’s a website, telling the stories of women who have had significant preaching or teaching ministries, or otherwise led the church. Nothing more than that. I hope it will grow to include hundreds of stories. I hope that perhaps someday a young woman sensing God’s call in a context that does not encourage her might discover some of these narratives of mothers in the faith and find the courage and faith to follow her vocation as a result. That’s all. Do have a look, and if you’d like to write someone’s story, or draw a picture or...

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Serious thinking does not always lead to the same conclusion

Steve Chalke was kind enough to tweet a link to my piece on his invitation to a global conversation; in the same tweet he linked to a piece by Brian McLaren on the same theme. Brian’s piece was entitled ‘The Biblical cat is out of the fundamentalist bag’, which mostly left me straining to think of mentions of cats in the Bible (I don’t think there are any – several lions of course…); the piece was mostly a series of links to interesting posts elsewhere; at the end, though, McLaren writes: …the real question is this: in the privacy of people’s own hearts, will they (will you, will I?) have the courage to think, rethink, question, and consider the possibility that the conventional view of the Bible is in need of...

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A global conversation on the Bible?

I was told some while back that Steve Chalke was writing a piece on the Bible, and invited by someone to give a response; I refused on grounds of friendship – I did a formal response for someone else last time Steve published a position paper, and I don’t want to make it a habit… …when I read Steve’s piece, however, I confess to being puzzled; I’ve now read it more than once, and I remain puzzled. So this is just me, responding as Steve asked us to, not with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, but with a ‘why?’ Because I’m puzzled. On the Oasis site where Steve’s paper is posted it is introduced with the line ‘Steve Chalke calls on the world-wide church to have an open and honest dialogue...

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On pessimistic conservatism: a prolegomenon to more comments on Scottish independence

I do not currently have any metrics enabled on this blog – I genuinely have no idea how many people read any given post; I am alert, however, to who shares or comments on a post. A bot that says a thousand visitors came by matters less to me than one person whose judgement I trust saying ‘what you said there matters’. On this basis, I was very struck by the reaction to my first attempt to say something on the question of the coming referendum on Scottish independence: a number of people whose opinions I trust deeply indicated it was very helpful, so much so that I intend to offer some further comment over the coming weeks/months. This post is, as the subtitle suggests, preparatory to that comment; as I reflect on the questions, I am aware of...

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‘This Day in Baptist History’

The Centre for Baptist History and Heritage at Regent’s Park College, Oxford has launched a couple of interesting new projects which both invite contributions. One is called ‘This Day in Baptist History’ which intends to build into an interactive calendar of Baptist events. The beginnings of the calendar, and the invitation for contributions, can both be found here. The other is an invitation to submit visual church histories at a popular level. A couple of examples and the call for submissions are here. Both projects could be very rich and useful if they get substantial contributions; it would be good, in particular, to see contributions from beyond the UK-USA axis that Baptist narratives so often turn...

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Of a Covenant and a Referendum: A (Baptist) Theological Reflection on Scottish Independence

At the bottom of our village is a wood containing two monuments, symbolically separated by a wall. One commemorates Archbishop Sharp of St Andrews, and is erected on the spot where he was murdered by Covenanters in 1679; the other commemorates six Covenanters, almost certainly not the murderers, who were nonetheless killed in revenge for Sharp’s death. The Covenanters, for non-Scots readers, were militant Presbyterians who gathered illegally and occasionally resorted to violence in the face of the attempt by the London regime to impose episcopal church order on the Scottish church. I knew little of the Covenanters before moving up here; my first encounter with their story, as far as I recall, was in a short narrative recorded by way of a preface in a book,...

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