Monday, September 17, 2012


This winter SNAG looks at six aspects 
of the Cross 

OCT 13th
A Needed Cross
(sin, its nature & effects, hell)
Alan Gamble
NOV 10th
An Ironic Cross
(theologia crucis –  what the Cross reveals about how God works)

Andy Hunter
DEC 8th
A Penal Cross
(the controversy & logic around Penal Substitution)

Ian Shaw
JAN 12th
A Victorious Cross
(Christus Victor - the defeat of the devil & the death of death)

Mark Davis
FEB 9th
A Living Cross
(Christus Exemplar, Discipleship, Resurrection & new life)

John Thomson
MAR 16th
A Sufficient Cross
(grace, works and ‘other gospels’)

Scott Kirkland

Sunday, September 16, 2012

More G43 reformation...

Another corner of Pollokshaws becomes a slightly nicer place to live thanks to the G43 Reform clean-up team...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sawing off the branch...

I like Nicky Campbell. He is one of an increasingly rare number of BBC journalists who seems able to deal with issues reasonably objectively. Nicky Campbell, like us all, has his biases which emerge at times - but he at least seems to try to interrogate all views with some vigour - rather than the soft-soap deference of so many of his colleagues to their liberal-secular fellows.

This morning (14th Sept 2012) NC was interviewing a spokesman from the Muslim Brotherhood over the violent reaction of many in the Arab World to a video that mocks the Prophet Mohammed. In doing so NC asked some very penetrating questions - all the more penetrating, I would suggest, because the premise of many of them was based on an essentially Christian world-view rather than on a liberal-secular one (e.g. doing good & loving others being at the heart of expressing true faith, and the issue of leaving judgement to God).

However, there was one assertion by NC that, as a Christian, I would want to challenge. It arose in response to the interviewee stating that The West was inconsistent in objecting to the Muslim reaction when some its governments imprison people for denying the Holocaust. In other words Western Governments are hypocritical in denying free speech when they feel offended while telling Muslims just to put up being offended elsewhere (a point many Christians will have some sympathy with).

In response NC stated that the difference was that 'religion was a matter of conjecture' while the Holocaust was a matter of 'historical fact'. That is, while the former is just subjective opinion the latter is objective truth.

It is a premise that underpins liberal-secular thinking (albeit there is the self-refuting irony of even talking about 'objective' right and wrong in a godless universe where any moral standard could never be more than just human opinion). But it's a premise that won't stand in the face of Christianity.

Why? Because Christianity is founded upon historical events. The New Testament is at pains to stress it's eyewitness sources and reliability (Luke 1:1-4). The life, claims and actions of Jesus are attested by historical documents written by those alive at the time. The authenticity of the New Testament accounts of Jesus stand up equally to that of any historical records of the period. Christians do not base their beliefs about Jesus on 'conjecture' but on historical evidence.

Now, the reason many reject that evidence is not because the records aren't historical but simply because they refuse to believe their contents. Holocaust-deniers refuse to accept documentary or eyewitness evidence about the Holocaust, not because the documents or witnesses don't exist, but because they simply refuse to believe what they say. Many refuse to believe that men went to the moon - not because evidence is lacking, but they just don't think it could have been possible and therefore the evidence, in their minds, can't be reliable.

The reason Christians don't (shouldn't) react with violence or hostility to their faith being ridiculed (as it is incessantly on the BBC and elsewhere), is not that their beliefs and sensibilities are inferior or less credible than those of liberal-secularists or other religions - but because Jesus taught His followers to 'turn the other cheek', do good to those that harm you, and leave judgement to God.

The problem with liberal-secularism is that it wants Christian behaviour while denying the basis on which it rests.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hear heaven's anthem ring

The British summer of 2012 has been a succession of celebrations. First the Jubilee - the pagent down the Thames and the concert on the Mall. Then the Olympic & Para-Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. And as an added extra there was the Last Night of the Proms which had a extra edge of patriotic fevour set against the above. Each one, for most Brits, had an uplifting and inspiring  quality to it. The combination of the huge crowds, the dramatic settings & music, along with the sense of marking something extra-ordinary couldn't fail to stiffen the sinews and stir the heart.

There is something in the human psyche that responds to these occasions - moments of significance when the hairs on the back our necks stand up and we feel part of something great & significant.

Thus my own thoughts, while watching the Last Night of the Proms, turned to the great ceremony that will honour the King of Kings & celebrate God's Kingdom and achievements in all their fullness.  The day Christians are given a preview of in Revelation ch.5 - and what a day! The day when God's people are finally gathered together as one. Not just the vast sea of bodies that filled the Mall, Hyde Park & the Olympic stadium - but a multitude beyond numbering: thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand (v11). Just imagine the scene as every Christian throughout the centuries is gathered together - who knows maybe in an incoming procession...

The Christians of ancient Rome, some who lived all their life in catacombs to escape the persecution above;
The medieval Christians who kept the faith alive in days of dark superstition  when the Gospel seemed to be a barely flickering light;
The Reformers who rediscovered the power of the Gospel and proclaimed it in the face of fierce opposition; 
The 19th Century Missionaries who left famiiy, homes, language, comforts and never came back; 
The 20th Century Christians we never heard of who perished in gulags and concentration camps;
The Nigerian, Syrian, Iraqi, Egyptian, Indonesian & Indian Christians of the early 21st Century who were hounded, burnt out of their homes and churches because of their faith; and in they come, men & women from every people group, language & nation. And all around that vast meeting place shakes as their voices joined by those of angels thunder God's praise. This is the Day of Salvation and Vindication - the end of sin and the beginning of endless peace & joy.

And the climax comes not in hosting a flag or lighting a flame but when all eyes look to the throne at the centre - and there they see a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain (v6). Jesus - the one in whom, and through whom and for whom all things were created (Col 1:15-20). The reason that they are there. A moment of joy that will last forever.

Imagine there's a heaven
It's easy if you try
A day of peace before us
Above us Jesus lifted high
Imagine all the people living for that day

Eat your heart out Danny Boyle!