Faith vs works?

Difficult issues series

Arm wrestle

Last post I considered the apparent differences between the teachings and emphasis of Jesus and Paul. I concluded that the differences are sometimes exaggerated, sometimes understated, but we should avoid trying to make them say the same things, and instead try to learn from both.

The issue of faith vs works is a good example of how the desire for neat theology and harmonisation of biblical teaching can lead us away from what the Bible is saying.

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After the gospels, one of the best (and shortest) books you’ll read about Jesus

rbauckham

You wouldn’t even try to count the number of books written about Jesus. Most of them would have value, I guess, but some are long and scholarly, others lack a good historical basis.

But here’s one that is short, written by a respected historian and is encouraging to faith. What’s not to like?

It is the best introductory book about Jesus I have read. I think you’ll find it helpful and stimulating, and you’ll want to lend it out. Here’s why.

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The shocking behaviour of God!

Spiritual principles series

Sennacherib

We don’t know much about the prophet Habakkuk, but he probably lived around 600 BCE when the Babylonians were becoming powerful and a threat to Jerusalem.

Habakkuk is shocked by the violence around him, and asks God how long he will tolerate it. He gets a shocking and surprising answer, but one we can learn from.

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A “revelation of God’s true nature”?

RU listening?

I concluded my previous post on DNA and evolution with this comment:

“DNA is fundamental to all life. As christians we can see it as part of the way God has set up the universe. So we should be willing and interested to learn what it tells us about life. I think what we learn is exciting.”

I want to explore that idea a little more. (I’m wondering if this might be one of the most important topics I’ve tackled here.)

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DNA – a challenge to believers and unbelievers

Difficult Issues series

DNA

I have been researching family history for several years now, and have recently had my DNA tested to identify possible genetic matches – people who are related to me, perhaps as distant as 5th cousins – to try to make some breakthroughs in a difficult search.

This has opened up an interesting new world for me, with some interesting implications for christians.

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Why did Jesus have to die?

Difficult issues series

Jesus on the cross

It is one of the most central teachings of christianity that Jesus died to save us from our sins. But it has come under scrutiny in recent years – from believers, who want to understand and explain it better, and from non-believers who attack it as barbaric and illogical.

There are many approaches to understanding. Let’s see if we can unravel them a little.

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youth climate group

We came, we marched, who cares?

So, about 40,000 of us “marched” (I was more like strolling on a warm afternoon!) in Sydney; many, many more around the world.

The march was loosely organised around colour groups – Australia’s first nations peoples at the start, mostly in black, then a large contingent of Pacific Islanders (who are already feeling the effects) in red, many nations and many faiths in purple, youth and future generations in blue, and so on.

It was good fun, colourful, musical, good spirited. Lots of drummers, many colourful and imaginative costumes, an “ecopella” choir, a lone clarinetist, and many more.

So now we’ll see if the Paris talks become global actions, or not.

Reporting the news?

Most news outlets reported the march in Sydney, in Australia, and the world, fairly and as you’d expect – a few colourful photos, a few quotes from marchers and speakers at the pre-march rally, an estimation of the numbers.

But Sydney’s Telegraph, owned by Rupert Murdoch, was predictable (I actually did predict its response beforehand). It rarely provides genuine news these days, but is very selective about what it publishes, always puts a spin on what it does report (often very nasty in its headlines and digitally distorted photos), and has its favourite people and causes to hate. Climate change is one of its big hates, and columnists, cartoonists and letter writers are carefully selected to present the same misinformation. I predicted it would only mention the march briefly, and it would find a way to spin it to attack one of its favourite targets.

And so it proved. Yesterday there was the smallest possible news item, in a little box down the bottom corner of the page, and all it said was that the deputy leader of the opposition had criticised the Prime Minister at a rally in Sydney (the PM is one of the people the Telegraph are trying to undermine). That’s all.

But today there was a report of anarchists in Paris making a protest which resulted in clashes with the police, so of course this received a large spread because it suited the Telegraph‘s ideological purposes.

It is no wonder there is wavering support for the necessary action, when one of only three newspapers in Sydney gets so much misinformation and so little truth.