On religious liberty: an open letter to Franklin Graham

Dear Mr Graham, This week someone who has put himself forward as a candidate for the presidency of your great nation made a number of hate-filled and inaccurate comments about Muslims, and proposed some extreme policies on the back of those comments. This came to our attention here in the UK because one of the things he claimed, entirely erroneously, was that parts of London were so radicalised that they had become no-go areas for our police and security services. Our national response was, as our national responses so often are, as mocking as it was derisive. The mayor of London led the way, but on social media many of us joined in with the humour. I know London well; I trained for ministry there, took my PhD there, pastored my first church there, made, with my...

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Sex, death and marriage

In case anyone is interested, this is the paper I gave at an ETS panel on theological methodology for discussing marriage; many of the arguments have or will appear in print elsewhere, but I’m not going to publish this, so it may as well be here.   And I say to you, that whoever puts away his wife  – except on account of porneia – and marries another woman commits adultery. [His] disciples said to him, ‘If that is the way it is for a man with his wife, it is not a good idea to get married!’ Mt. 19:9-10 (my tr.) This retort from the disciples fascinates me, as does its neglect in recent commentary and ethical reflection. Let me pose my question straightforwardly: can any of us here imagine Christian leaders in our own context responding to a...

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Ways to prove a point

One day last week we had two seminars here in St Andrews. Our weekly doctrine seminar is presently, under John Webster’s guidance, working through Katherine Sonderegger’s first volume of her Systematic Theology, entitled The Doctrine of God. It is a fascinating text, sometimes very reminiscent of (the English translation of) Barth’s Church Dogmatics in its cadences, and devoted to the bold claim that the unicity of God is the vital first word of Christian theology. That evening Oliver Crisp, who I have known, liked, and respected since we were both grad students at King’s College London, was in town and gave us an excellent paper on divine simplicity. It was a good day. Amongst many other significant scholarly achievements, Oliver is of...

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’Shadows and Broken Images’: thinking theologically about femaleness and maleness

I’ve been reading Megan DeFranza’s new book, Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female and Intersex in the Image of God (Eerdmans, 2015). In response, I want to argue that our best way of thinking through an adequately postmodern account of human sex-difference might come from reflecting on medieval commentaries on Lombard’s Sentences.

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Holy-daying, Kingdom Living, and Secular Space

We are recently back from holiday; we spent two weeks at Le Pas Opton, a Christian holiday camp in France owned and run by Spring Harvest. We were there because I was speaking one week; I don’t suppose we would have thought to book an explicitly Christian holiday otherwise. I thoroughly enjoyed working with two wonderful people, Cath and Rach, from Sound of Wales, who led worship powerfully and sensitively the week I spoke, and getting to know some of the guests. A few days before we went, I found myself in London with a meeting cancelled, and so met up with an old friend, Lincoln Harvey, who teaches doctrine at St Melitus College (and, incidentally, is the one person you simply must follow on Twitter if you have any theological interest at all). We talked about...

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