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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sermon: Who wants to be Left Behind?


This was a sermon I preached on Sunday 9 November, 2014 at Gosford Salvation Army. We follow the Revised Common Lectionary. One of the passages for that day was 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, a passage which is frequently suggested to make reference to the so-called "Rapture". This is a very pervasive, and I think incorrect, theology that many people take for granted and so I decided to challenge it.
I've had more conversations about this sermon than any other I've preached before.  I apologise for the very low volume in the videos. I've included the full text underneath so you can read it if listening becomes too difficult. I'd welcome your comments on this one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Sacraments and the Handbook of Doctrine

I recently sent this to the President and Vice-President of the International Doctrine Council. I have received a response (which I won't publish because it's not my place to). Rather, I publish my letter here to continue the discussion with others who may be interested.

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The issue of the sacraments and sacramentality in The Salvation Army is one that has interested me for a number of years. When given the opportunity to choose a topic for my honours dissertation in 2007 it was a relatively easy choice to make. At the time I wanted to consider the often asked question “Why don’t we practise that?” alongside its rarely asked correlate “But why do we practise this?”  The conclusion of my research was that we are indeed a sacramental people, something that was affirmed well in Salvation Story,[1] but our expression of this sacramentality was new in terms of church history. I used the term “neosacramentality” to describe this.[2] Whilst I would suggest we employ new sacraments of our own creation, the question of the validity of such a decision remains unanswered.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Questions 3 - Who Do You Say I Am?"

1      Introduction

One day Jesus and his disciples were entering Caesarea Philippi. Jesus asks his disciples a question; “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  They answer “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” The variety and uncertainty (“some say”) may suggest that it is the disciples themselves who are still unsure of how to answer, not so much what the people are saying. The first question sets the scene, though, for the next, more personal and very direct question. In fact, this is arguably the most important question of all time.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter jumps in with confidence;

“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

As we read this passage we too are confronted with this same question, and it is the topic for our discussion today. “Who do you say I am?”

Monday, April 28, 2014

Questions - 2. What difference does belief in the Trinity make?

1      Introduction

The Trinity is one of the most difficult aspects of Christian theology yet at the same time arguably the most important. What we understand God to be like impacts how we understand what God does. Robert Letham has suggested that “In the West, the Trinity has in practice been relegated to such an extent that most Christians are little more than practical modalists.”[1] In other words, in practical terms, the Trinity really has no impact on the way most Christians live and move within their faith. 

How can this be?

Clearly, if theologians suggest that this a “fundamental aspect of the Christian vision of God”[2] then surely this must have an impact on the way we worship, the way we engage in mission as well as our understanding of what it means to be a people of the Triune God. These are the things we will be focusing upon today. So, whilst we will make an attempt to describe the Trinity in ways that are understandable, really the question is “What difference does a belief in the Trinity make?”

Monday, March 31, 2014

Questions - 1. How Do You Read It?

I've started a new series of bible studies at church this year called "Questions?". Here I choose a particular question of interest, present some material on it, and then the group discusses it. The first of these questions was "How do you read it?"; a question that Jesus asked of the "expert in the law" in Luke 10:26. Whilst not addressing the passage directly, I find this particular question to be one of the most important for Christians to consider. Here's the material I presented for discussion below.
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