An Evangelical approach to sexual ethics

I am just back from the annual meeting of the American Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) in San Antonio, TX. It is only the second time in my life I have been to the ETS conference, but they offered a slot for us to launch a book, Two Views on Homosexuality, that I’ve contributed to, and I decided quickly that I owed it to the publishers (who have been very generous) and to my fellow contributors (who in the process of arguing our points have become friends) to be there. I don’t suppose that it is a state secret that we were offering the launch around the conferences. If we’d got at slot at AAR/SBL, Wes Hill and I, who argued the conservative side of the question, would have been under fire, and would have looked to Megan DeFranza and Bill Loader, who argued...

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Stigmatic: a poem for Good Friday

[Years ago I read an account of someone—at this distance I don’t even remember who—receiving the stigmata. The detail that has stayed with me ever since was that the wounds did not come all at once, but gradually developed over several months.]   You pierced me slowly, Lord. An itch at first. Mere irritation. Then four sores. Blood seeping, Staining sock and shirt. Skin scraped away as if by Sandpaper. Why not the quick urgent thrust of a lover Breaking my virgin skin with rush of blood? Penetration completed in a moment. As swift as when nails impaled you. Your mining as ponderous and painstaking As an archeological dig. Pits Excavated in my extremities With excruciating exactness. Pressing imperceptibly deeper Precise, damaging no bones. At last you break...

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On repentance, forgiveness, and the Church of the Second Chance

My friend Natalie Collins wrote a piece a few weeks ago for the (excellent) preachweb.org site responding to an earlier piece by Martin Saunders; both reflect on how a preacher might deal with the simmering news story concerning the footballer Ched Evans, who has recently been released from prison on licence for a rape conviction, and is looking for a club to resurrect his career. He is (or was) talented enough that a number of clubs are tempted; his crime, his refusal to acknowledge his guilt, and his public lack of remorse, are together sufficiently sickening that the opinion of the public and (perhaps more crucially) that of a significant number of financial sponsors is set against at having him at any particular club. As a result a rolling story is being...

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The consolations of faith: on leading on non-religious funeral

Today I led a funeral service for my grandmother; in accordance with her views, and the wishes of her children, the service was devoid of any ‘religious’ content. I found this odd. Not difficult, but odd. Obviously, when asked to do it, I said yes; it did not take any thought to decide to help family members at such a time, and I rapidly worked out that, whilst I could not lead a ceremony speaking words I did not believe, I have no problem (indeed, a fair amount of experience, one way or another) in acting with integrity in public whilst not saying certain things that I do believe. What difficultly there was lay in working out what the service was for, in order to construct an appropriate form of words (I keep saying ‘liturgy’ in my head,...

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On the Incarnation: Four Chalcedonian Sonnets

‘Haec et mea fides est quando haec est catholica fides’ (Aug. De Trin., I.iv.7) 1. Cyril’s Second Letter to Nestorius  ‘Mother of God’ the Fathers said, and we, If we in faith with them are still to stand, Must say the same. The One born of Mary Is God in truth, united with a man. God – of the Father before all time born; Man of his mother, late in time he comes. God unchanging, not by suff’ring torn; Man in flesh and soul united with the Son. This union wondrous comes not late in life But in the womb occurs at once. And so The Holy Mother does not just bear Christ, But God the Word himself in her does grow.   In pain she pushes God, to this world come; Honour the mother, then, to confess the Son.     2. Cyril’s...

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