Biblical politics

Can the Bible speak usefully and clearly to contemporary political issues? There are enough examples of people who want to insist the answer is yes, and then display a powerful conviction that one or another secular slate of partisan positions is, astonishingly, completely supported by Scripture. (For a very generous review of a particularly unfortunate recent example, that apparently even manages to defend the practice of torture as Biblically sanctioned, see Krish Kandiah’s blog here…) Perhaps there is an alternative way of addressing the question: if we took a good sample of people, and mapped their political beliefs against their practices of Bible reading, would anything significant be observed? A recent sociological study seems to suggest yes,...

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How much Scripture to preach on?

It won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who knows me, virtually or in real life, that one of the (fairly few) things that annoy me about the contemporary, ‘soft-charismatic’ style of worship that represents the British Baptist mainstream these days is the relative lack of Scripture heard in the services. I’ve written elsewhere about my desire to return to, at least, ‘Old Testament, Epistle, Gospel’ patterns of lectionary reading as opposed to just reading the passage preached on. (We’re just back from holiday in the Lake District, which allowed us to return to the delightful little fellowship at Hawkshead Hill Baptist Church. Three passages of Scripture, read and allowed to mutually interpret, during the sermon;...

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The oddness of living post-Christendom

Iain made a comment on the previous post about the post-Christian cultural context in which we now live, and the sheer lack of understanding of Biblical/theological references that is now general amongst the Scottish population. I take the point, but it is more complex than just ignorance… Pre-Christian societies are simply ignorant of the gospel. Nobody knows anything; the evangelist must start from scratch, finding culturally-meaningful resonances that start to make gospel narratives comprehensible. Meeting a new person, it is a very safe bet that they know nothing of the gospel, have no memory of Biblical narratives, and have no inkling of central theological concepts (‘grace’; ‘redemption’; ‘incarnation’;...

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On not being in love with ‘Judas’

My friend Pete Philips has a typically thoughtful and worthwhile guest post on the Church Mouse Blog a little while back, looking at Lady Gaga’s recent single ‘Judas’. Pete lamented the lack of Christian engagement with this song (& they accompanying video), suggesting Lady Gaga is a significant cultural icon whose invocations of Christian themes should be missionally important to us both as guides to where the wider culture stands, and as points of engagement with the wider culture. Pete was perhaps right to lament the lack of discussion, but I wonder how much of the lack stemmed from what in academia we call a ‘null result’: having given time to investigating something, you sometimes discover that, actually, it wasn’t...

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